4  FM quick reads on grounds care

1. Anti-Icing Chemicals: Stopping Ice Before it Starts


I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, applying anti-icing chemicals.

Professionals involved in snow and ice management have begun to move away from using exclusively granular materials and in many cases have adopted liquid anti-icing materials as the product of choice. Why? As a pre-treatment on roadways, parking lots, and walkways, anti-icing products tend to perform better in preventing snow and ice from bonding to paved surfaces.

Liquid anti-icing products coat the surface of roads and parking lots. Once precipitation starts, the melting process begins. The primary objective of these chemicals is to keep snow and ice from bonding to the pavement, which provides better traction for automobiles and allows for easier removal of snow and ice down to the paved surface.

Salt, also know as sodium chloride or NaCl, is the most common and inexpensive deicer and has been the industry standard for almost a century. Unfortunately, NaCl as a deicing agent can harm the environment, including landscaped areas near pathways and parking lots, and it can cause erosion.

Today, it is common for crews to wet NaCl with a liquid agent to increase its effectiveness and reduce the amount needed. Converting rock salt to brine also is more common. Crews should never use NaCl products around electrical boxes, structural materials or anywhere safety is a priority because of the corrosion it can create.


2.  Snow and Ice Removal: Pre-Treatment Strategies

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is strategies for clearing snow and ice more effectively.

To make clearing snow and ice easier for grounds crews, managers more often pre-treat sidewalks and other paved surfaces with anti-icing products. These products help keep exterior surfaces clear and safe for vehicle and pedestrian traffic. With a better understanding of the evolution of these products, managers can develop a more successful game plan to prepare with confidence for the coming winter season.

Professionals involved in snow and ice management have begun to move away from using exclusively granular materials and in many cases have adopted liquid anti-icing materials as the product of choice. Why? As a pre-treatment on roadways, parking lots, and walkways, anti-icing products tend to perform better in preventing snow and ice from bonding to paved surfaces.

Liquid anti-icing products coat the surface of roads and parking lots. Once precipitation starts, the melting process begins. The primary objective of these chemicals is to keep snow and ice from bonding to the pavement, which provides better traction for automobiles and allows for easier removal of snow and ice down to the paved surface.

Salt, also know as sodium chloride or NaCl, is the most common and inexpensive deicer and has been the industry standard for almost a century. Unfortunately, NaCl as a deicing agent can harm the environment, including landscaped areas near pathways and parking lots, and it can cause erosion.

Today, it is common for crews to wet NaCl with a liquid agent to increase its effectiveness and reduce the amount needed. Converting rock salt to brine also is more common. Crews should never use NaCl products around electrical boxes, structural materials or anywhere safety is a priority because of the corrosion it can create.

3.  Seven Alternatives to Rock Salt

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is seven alternatives to rock salt.

As grounds managers fine-tune their deicing and anti-icing programs, they are seeking alternatives to rock salt, or sodium chloride. Here are seven alternatives:

Calcium chloride. Calcium chloride, or CaCl, is a byproduct of some chemical manufacturing processes. Proper storage is imperative — in plastic or metal bins with lids — because CaCl absorbs water easily.

Magnesium chloride. This deicer comes in a granular form blended with other chlorides or in a liquid solution. It is safe to use around vegetation, but crews should not apply it too heavily because it can become slippery.

Potassium chloride. A good all-around deicer for pedestrian areas, potassium chloride shares the chemical makeup of some fertilizers. As a result, it is safe for use around vegetation and causes minimal impact on soil and water sources.

Urea. This product, which is also a fertilizer, comes in a granular form. When applied in recommended amounts, urea should not harm vegetation and, in fact, can promote growth.

Calcium-magnesium acetate. Calcium-magnesium acetate has limited melting capabilities but is a biodegradable product primarily used to prevent ice formation on concrete, bridges and roads, which are sensitive to corrosion.

Liquid potassium acetate. This environmentally responsible liquid solution is another pre-treatment option that prevents snow and ice from forming on and adhering to paved surfaces. It is biodegradable and available in liquid form, and crews should apply it before a snowstorm to achieve maximum effectiveness.

M-50. This anti-icing product causes minimal environmental impact, is biodegradable, and is less corrosive than distilled water.

4.  Propane: A Viable Choice for Alternative Fuels

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip looks at the benefits of using propane in grounds equipment fleets.

As environmental responsibility grows among their organizations, grounds managers in institutional and commercial facilities are focusing more of their efforts on learning about the potential benefits and applications of mowers and utility vehicles featuring engines powered by propane.

Among the benefits of propane is it has a smaller impact on the environment, as well as an organization's bottom line, and it is available through an established distribution system. A growing number of managers are trying to determine if their organizations' needs can benefit from the advantages propane offers.

For example, propane-fueled pickup trucks emit lower levels of carbon and greenhouse gases than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Compared to gasoline engines, propane vehicles reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by an average of 19 percent, cut nitrogen-oxide emissions by 20 percent, and lower carbon-monoxide emissions by up to 60 percent.

Some propane-fueled trucks offer new liquid-propane injection systems that provide the same horsepower, torque, and towing capacity as gasoline versions of the trucks.

Economics play an important part in any grounds manager's decision on whether or not to upgrade equipment. That said, propane mowers are about 20 percent less expensive to operate than their gasoline-powered counterparts. So in just months, these operational savings can help balance the initial cost of propane mowers

Beyond that, tanks for propane mowers tend to be larger than tanks for gasoline mowers, so propane units can provide longer run times, and less frequent refueling means fewer chances for spilled and wasted fuel.


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