Sugar Beets Beat Ice

Dec. 31, 2010

University of Iowa (UI) landscape service crews are using sugar beet juice as their secret weapon against winter and the snow and ice that accompany it. The crews are using an eco-friendly deicer that combines salt and a byproduct from sugar beet processing.

UI is using ProMelt, which is one product among many relatively new eco-friendly de-icing products.

Scot Gritsch, manager with UI Facilities Management Landscape Services, estimates that the crews will use 30% less product this year. "Our goal is to clear the snow early and down to the pavement so there isn’t any re-freeze," he says. "This new product works at a lower effective temperature than salt and will begin to work quicker, too."

In addition, the product’s texture is slightly sticky, which eliminates the need to mix it with sand and thereby decreases the amount of dirt tracked into buildings.

"Water runoff from snowmelt eventually ends up in our storm drains and natural waterways, taking along with it any sand, salt, and other materials it may have picked up along the way," says Liz Christiansen, director of the UI Office of Sustainability. "Facilities Management continues to investigate new products like ProMelt that are environmentally and fiscally responsible."

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