Cold Weather Brine Storage

Original Message: (Clear Roads, undated)

Several Utah maintenance stations have reported salt brine storage tanks with slush or floating ice due to extreme cold. Besides indoor or heated tanks, do you have any best management practices for brine storage below 0 degrees Fahrenheit?

- Lynn Bernhard, Utah Department of Transportation (lynnbernhard@utah.gov)

Response Messages

(7 responses)

We had similar issues when we added 10% Geomelt to our blend. We increased it to 20%, and we haven’t had any issues. We also switched our plastic fittings to stainless steel. They can handle the extreme cold we tend to get in North Dakota better than plastic fittings.

- Larry Gangl, North Dakota Department of Transportation (lgangl@nd.gov)

We’ve experienced similar issues, mostly with the plumbing and sight glasses where the surface area was greater compared to the tank mass. We issued guidance to drain down or blowout plumbing when forecasted temps are below zero. We have also discontinued the sight glasses in our colder areas. From an application standpoint, zero is well below our comfort level for direct application, but several crews have experimented pre-wetting solids during subzero temps, and they experienced similar issues in the truck plumbing; as well as the pre-wet material froze to the inside of the sander chute and eventually closed it off. We use MgCl2 to pre-wet when treatments are required at extremely low temps.

- Justun Juelfs, Montana Department of Transportation (jjuelfs@mt.gov)

We try to recirculate the water with pumps.

- Mike Lashmet, New York State Department of Transportation (mlashmet@dot.state.ny.us)

That’s part of the reason why we started blending the brine with Ice B’ Gone at a 70:30 ratio (Brine:IBG). We were also getting the freezing in the ball valve as opposed to the main tank (the tanks are 5,500 gallon, so the sheer volume, probably combined with the sunlight during the day, helps keep the tanks warmer). We either put heat tape or a box with a light bulb around the main ball valve, and even the straight brine systems would be fine with -10 degrees or so for several days. If you’re getting floating ice above -6 degrees Fahrenheit, there’s probably a little too much salt in the brine.

- Brian Burne, Maine Department of Transportation (brian.burne@maine.gov)

We have circulators in all of our tank farms. They are set to cycle on and off day and night. If it gets to 10 degrees or so, they will be switched on and run continuously. In Pennsylvania, this does not occur much except in our north central counties. s old school. There has to be something sexier and more costly then that available by now. Perhaps beet juice?

- Charlie Goodhart, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (cgoodhart@pa.gov)

I have not heard from anyone in Wisconsin that this has been a problem. One thing you may want to try is installing a small recirculation pump in the tank. This helped us in the past when the IceBan products got a little gummy.

- Mike Sproul, Wisconsin Department of Transportation (michael.sproul@dot.state.wi.us)

Yes, once at Chadron and once at Chappell. Both times the temperature was -15 to -10 Fahrenheit, and the wind was blowing on the tanks. The real problem was that the plastic pipe manifolds froze, and we couldn’t move the material. We heated the manifolds slowly, and once the material could move, we circulated it and the brine thawed itself out. I suspect we had a little settling of the salt, and the brine mixture was less than optimal. After that we paid attention and circulated the material more often, and the problem never has resurfaced.

- Chris Ford, Nebraska Department of Roads (chris.ford@nebraska.gov)