Just beet it: Winnipeg to expand use of alternative anti-ice product


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Winnipeg is moving ahead with initiatives that incorporate natural, local material to deal with winter conditions on its streets and sidewalks.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/04/2018 (1633 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg is moving ahead with initiatives that incorporate natural, local material to deal with winter conditions on its streets and sidewalks.

The public works department is expanding its use of “beet juice” and introducing granite stone chips for use on both streets and sidewalks.

Cheryl Anderson, acting manager of street maintenance, said the City of Winnipeg has been using the beet juice mixture – desugared beet molasses mixed with road salt – exclusively in the east, and plans to expand it citywide next winter.


“They’ve been using it and it’s proven to be very successful,” Anderson said.

A pilot program will launch next winter incorporating granite chips – hard angular stone – mixed with the traditional sand-salt mixture that’s spread onto streets and sidewalks

“It will cut into the ice pack a bit more, and traffic will break it down,” Anderson said of the tiny granite stones. “It’s darker and will absorb heat from light, so we’re hoping it will help break down the ice pack also.”

Unlike sand, the granite chips are reusable, Anderson said. The chips will be collected during the spring street clean-up, siphoned off from the grit, washed, and stored for the following winter.

Anderson said the pilot will determine if the chips are as effective as promoted and if there is cost savings.

Jim Berezowsky, director of public works, said the use of both the beet juice and granite chips was prompted by the snow storms that walloped Winnipeg in December 2016 and January 2017. The public works department was determined to improve its snow-clearing operation, he said, and outlined several initiatives during a presentation Friday to city council’s public works committee.

Anderson said the beet juice is the byproduct from the sugar beet refinement. The juice is sourced from North Dakota processing facilities, which have been selling it to third parties that convert the juice into material suitable for winter use.

Anderson said beet juice is for anti-icing and de-icing. In anti-icing, the liquid is on the surface and stops the ice from forming; for de-icing, it’s used as a pre-wetting liquid with salt-sand mixture and helps keep it sticking to the ground.

Unlike salt brine, which is only effective to about -12 C, Anderson said the beet juice is effective to -35 C.

It will be blended with sodium chloride, reducing the need for that product anywhere from 30 per cent to 70 per cent, she said.

Anderson said one of the big advantage of beet juice over sodium chloride is it’s more environmentally friendly. Sodium chloride is also corrosive to street and sidewalk surfaces, so the switch should create less wear.

The city had been using a calcium-chloride mixture for wetting purposes, but Anderson said it’s corrosive on roads and sidewalks. The beet juice is being mixed with the calcium chloride, she said, reducing the corrosive impact.


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