USU using sugar beets to melt ice on sidewalks

It may have not snowed much this year but when it did Utah State University’s campus had a unique way of melting the snow and ice. If you ever were walking on campus when there was ice you probably noticed that the ice melt appeared a lot darker than usual. It’s dark color came from a combination of magnesium chloride and sugar beet juice. Rob Reeder, Assistant Director of Facilities Maintenance at USU, says in theory this ice melt is more efficient than other ice melts because the beet juice acts as a bonding agent to the magnesium chloride. They bond together and it helps it stick to the cement. Other ice melts when they get wet have a tendency to slide off of the concrete. Getting the sugar beet byproduct hasn’t been that difficult. It is readily available and the university has been getting it from Idaho. Is using a sugar beet byproduct ice melt cheaper than traditional ice melt? Reeder says if it is applied effectively it will end up being a little more cost effective because it stays on the sidewalk and this means it doesn’t have to be applied as frequently. The ice melt is also being used at other campuses back east. Western Illinois introduced the idea to USU. USU has been experimenting with the new ice melt for this winter season. Reeder says, “When we started we realized that we were using a little bit too much sugar beet derivative.” Now they are working on using less and it is working more effective. The more they can leave ice melt on the cement the better it is for the grass. Any type of ice melt is not good for the grass as it recovers for spring.

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