A natural zeolite can be used in deicing without risk of affecting the groundwater.

The use of road salt and other chemicals for de-icing in winter is extensive. In Canada, five million tons are used per year; in the United States 15 million tons and in Sweden, 0.25 million tons are used annually.

“Road salt to melt snow and ice causes a number of problems,” says Oscar Lyttbacka, President of Eco Concept Earth. “Groundwater and waterways get polluted, concrete and metal structures corrode, and plants and animals may be damaged. Below minus 9 ° C salt hardly has any effect.”

In Sweden, the use of road salt, among other things is highlighted in environmental quality objectives and there is an expressed concern about the impact on groundwater quality (see box).

“There are effective and environmentally friendly alternatives to road salt and we are the first in Europe to offer deicing with a volcanic material developed in Canada,” continues Lyttbacka. “The Canadian inventor was a huge success in the Dragons Den TV show where all five ‘dragons’ wanted to participate and invest.”

Zeolites provide high friction

“The product ZeoFriction consists of a volcanic material – a natural zeolite. It does not contain salt or other chemical additives and it can be used as substrates in crop production and soil conditioner. From a chemical point of view, zeolite is a positive ion exchanger. It is one of the few naturally negatively charged minerals on Earth and positively charged ions get trapped in the zeolite. This includes good chemicals like potassium, calcium and ammonium ions but also various types of pollution,” says Lyttbacka.

“The material has a very high friction coefficient. One ton is enough for almost 60,000 square meters, compared with about 5,000 square meters for one ton of normal road salt. The friction coefficient is superior to sand or materials mixed with stone chippings.”

Microscopic pores absorb water

“ZeoFriction is a fine granular material that is very porous and highly absorbent. Each grain has microscopic pores that absorb the water layer on ice or snow surfaces. The beads have a very large total surface of contact points and a mechanically sturdy structure. ZeoFriction can actually absorb water up to 55 percent of its volume, and when the material is embedded in the ice or snow it creates a sandpaper effect,” continues Lyttbacka.

“The dark green color contributes to the absorption of solar energy thus increasing the ice melt rate. The material itself does not melt but sinks into the snow or ice. When ZeoFriction is activated, its color darkens indicating it is safe to ride a bike or drive a car. The product operates at temperatures approaching -50 ° C, but is also effective in freezing rain.”

“Negative effects such as groundwater contamination, discoloration from corrosion is avoided. When deicing season is over, the product can be collected and reused as a soil fertilizer,” concludes Lyttbacka.

The article was published in February 2015