Beet Juice Specifications and Testing

Original Message: John Habermann
Indiana LTAP
Purdue University

September 29 2011

These are questions regarding the specifications of 'beet juice' for use in winter operations. A local agency recently contacted me in regards to the Specific Gravity thresholds he wants to put into their agency's bid proposal. In past years, they specified 1.275 with a margin allowed between 1.26-1.28. A couple of suppliers have 'pushed back' and have suggested to him he might want his Specific Gravity to be higher (thicker liquid) for instance 1.3. The questions are:

1) Is this the trend of 'beet juice' suppliers all across the country?

2) If he still decides to stay with a lower Specific Gravity is that material of a lesser quality?

3) Outside of Specific Gravity testing, he wants to know if there is a simple 'chemical composition test' he can perform on the beet juice to make sure it is not diluted with chlorides or other materials?

Any help would be appreciated.

Response Messages

Xianming Shi, Ph.D., P.E.
Associate Research Professor
Civil Engineering Western Transportation Institute
Montana State University Bozeman, MT 59717-4250

September 29, 2011

For the Specific Gravity, it was included in the Pacific Northwest Snowfighters Association list of deicer parameters for some historical reason, I guess. The person who is most knowledgeable about this may be Ron Wright, the chemist at the Idaho Transportation Department. Ron once told me stories about how some vendor tried to cheat the corrosion (dipping machine) test by adding oily substance in the deicer product.

On the question 3), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) can be a wonderful tool to use, especially if coupled with electrochemical metallic corrosion test. Both methods provide fingerprint type info that can be quickly obtained (in hours instead of days). We used both methods in the recently completed PNS-led pooled fund study of inhibitor longevity and deicer performance.