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* News Release *
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
For Immediate Release

Crews Get Ready For Winter

Today is the first official day of autumn, but the Butler County Engineer's Office is already gearing up for winter, according to County Engineer Greg Wilkens. With the purchase of a new automatic salt brine production system, county road crews will have a more efficient way to treat -- or pre-treat -- the roads this winter.

The automated brine maker with distribution tanks is a complete system which will enable quick on-site production of the brine. Two tanks can each be loaded onto separate trucks for application to the roadway surfaces. "This quick and efficient method of pre-treating the roads has obvious advantages for the motorists and for our snow and ice control crews, who will have a more effective means to stay ahead of inclement winter weather," Wilkens emphasized.

The application of salt brine before snow begins to fall helps prevent the bonding of snow and ice to pavements. "Pre-treating the roads with brine before a snow storm will help melt the snow and ice as it hits the roadway surface," said BCEO Operations Deputy Scott Bressler. "This will greatly reduce immediate accumulations and allow our crews to get a jump on the snow." In the past, crews have pre-treated roadways by spreading granular salt. However, the salt must melt through the combination of moisture and traffic to become effective. Pre-wetting with salt brine provides immediate melting action. And because it can be applied many hours, even days, before winter weather strikes, BCEO crews can pre-treat during normal hours which saves on overtime costs.

Finding new and more cost efficient ways to keep Butler County's roads clear and safe in the winter has long been a priority of the Engineer's Office. The Salt Institute has stated that applying brine before snow or ice has bonded to the pavement can be ten times more effective than spreading granular salt on top of snow and ice after the precipitation has bonded to the pavement. It takes one ton of salt to make 1,000 gallons of brine, resulting in less granular salt usage. Since pre-treating with brine makes subsequent applications of salt work more efficiently, twice as much can be accomplished with the same amount of salt. Bressler noted that the BCEO will continue to use liquid calcium chloride in very cold temperatures as it has in the past. Calcium improves the ability of salt to melt snow and ice when temperatures drop below 20 degrees.

How the Brine Production System Works

The BCEO's new automatic brine production system begins with a stainless steel hopper in which salt granules are mixed with water. Capable of producing 3,000 gallons of salt brine per hour, the hopper is located next to the County's salt storage barn for convenient loading and cleaning. A control unit circulates the salt and water mix to regulate the salinity. The brine is then pumped into a 6,000-gallon storage tank.

When crews are ready to pre-treat the roadways, the brine solution is pumped from the storage tank into an 1,800-gallon modular tank that is easily fitted onto the bed of a salt truck. The brine is then sprayed onto the roadway surface through a system of stainless steel spray bars equipped with adjustable nozzles. A typical application rate would be approximately 40 gallons per lane mile. The brine appears as a series of lines on the road surface after it is applied.

The total cost for the brine production system was $34,258. Bressler estimates that the system will pay for itself in less than one average Butler County winter and generate significant cost savings in subsequent winters. One agency in northeast Ohio's Coshocton County was estimated to have saved approximately $400,000 last winter by using the brine system.

Click on images to enlarge.

Stainless steel hopper used for mixing the brine solution.
Control sump circulates mix and regulates salinity.
Legged brine tank easily loaded onto truck.
Brine storage tank and legged brine tank on truck.
Spraying liquid brine onto roadway surface.
Pre-treating prevents snow from bonding to pavement.
Pre-treated roads will have white lines until they become wet with snow.

# # #

For more information contact:

Chris Petrocy, BCEO Public Information Supervisor
Greg Wilkens, P.E., P.S., Butler County Engineer
Phone 513.867.5744 • Fax 513.867.5849

Questions or comments about this web site? Email to BCEO Webmaster.

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