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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
prevents snow from bonding to pavement.
roads will have white lines until they become wet with snow.