The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

News

March 16, 2014

Beets help motorists beat the ice

— Picture those sweet red beets served with pickled eggs or with a flavorful thickening.

Then picture something more attractive to some: Those sweet red beets are helping motorists to gain traction and mobility on icy winter roads.

Travel along Route 422 in Butler County during the next winter storm and a new product termed “Beet Heet” may be helping you to move along.

“We have seen positive results using the product at temperatures below 15 degrees where salt is not as effective,” said Richard Kirkpatrick, a spokesman from

PennDOT’s  central office in Harrisburg.

Traditional water-based salt brine works until the temperature reaches about 25 degrees.

A formula using sugar beets is already in heavy use in a number of midwestern states including Ohio, Indiana and Missouri.

Information provided by MoDOT Kansas City District is that the beet juice, remaining after the sugar is pulled out and mixed with salt brine, is more effective than the standard formula.

Used as 80 percent brine to 20 percent beet juice, the formula works at temperatures significantly lower than salt brine alone.

According to MoDOT’s website, beet juice is proven to lessen the corrosive properties of the salt.

The Niagara region of Ontario uses a beet juice compound it calls “organic liquid deicing.”

The result has been a reduction of 30 percent in the amount of salt used on highways.

Kirkpatrick said Beet Heet will also be used on highways serviced by the Clarion County Maintenance Unit as PennDOT takes a hard look at the performance of the sugar beet byproduct and cost effectiveness of the product.

Kathy Mellott covers transportation issues for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/ kathymellotttd.

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