Properties of Mixed Winter Roadway Chemicals

Focus Area

Construction and Maintenance Practices


Environmental Process, Natural Resources






1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

Problem: Public agencies often utilize deicing chemicals to help achieve safe winter driving conditions. Beyond solid chemicals, these include liquids applied directly to the road or used to pre-wet solid chemicals.While salt is the most commonly used solid winter maintenance chemical, many agencies use other chemicals as pre-wetting agents and mix various liquids to create blends they believe offer advantages, such as low temperature melting, and lower application rates.
The phase diagrams and basic melting performance data for most of the commonly used chemicals are available. However, blends of these chemicals are now being increasingly used for pre-wetting and anti-icing applications.Improved knowledge of the performance characteristics of these blended materials will allow agencies to make more effective purchasing and application decisions.

Independent laboratory data on the performance of deicing chemicals and blends of chemicals will be collected. Existing data will be reviewed and verified. Additional testing will be conducted to establish performance data on blends of chemicals.
A survey of chemicals and blends in common use will establish the final testing program. Likely materials will include sodium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, CMA, potassium acetate and additives intended to reduce corrosion.
Data collection will include the phase properties (primarily crystallization points under expected storage conditions) plus SHRP test procedure data for ice melting capacity.

Urgency and Payoff

Public agencies are under extensive pressure to provide safe winter operating conditions while reducing application rates to lessen both cost and environmental impact.Managers require objective information to select, store and apply chemicals in an efficient manner. The growing use of chemical blends creates the need for current and objective chemical performance data. Savings in maintenance budgets and improved performance will result when the data collected from this study is available. It will benefit all State DOTs and local agencies responsible for winter road and airport maintenance. The benefits can be realized immediately following the conclusion of this project.

Suggested By

AHD65 on Winter Maintenance Committee, as specified in TRB Research Needs Database, 2009. (Submitted to TRB Database 4/2007)