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Friday, April 16, 2021

Colorado starts to reduce use of corrosive salt

The Colorado Department of Transportation is taking steps toward a more vehicle friendly winter road plan by using corrosion inhibitors in its salt brine solutions this season. The inhibitors will be used in the communities of Durango, Corez, Lamar and Ridgway.

Highway departments across the country are increasing their use of salt brine rather than solid salt to prevent and eliminate ice and snow build-up on winter roads but must also deal with the corrosion that the brines can cause.

Derived from renewable sugars and produced by Rivertop Renewables, the Headwaters 10F inhibitor has been demonstrated to perform with a high level of consistency and is cost effective. Headwaters reduces the impact of salt brine-induced corrosion on vehicles by more than 70 percent, according to Rivertop. It is also easier on road and bridges.

The company projects that COtrip’s use of the additives will result in savings of more than $830,000 on repairing and replacing infrastructure and vehicles. According to an online corrosion reduction calculator developed by Rivertop, Headwaters 10F inhibitor is estimated to save the four communities more than $432,000 annually in avoided repair and replacement costs of fleet vehicles, snow fighting equipment, bridges and other highway infrastructure.

The calculator further projects that use of the product saves $399,000 annually in repair and replacement costs for the trucking industry, public fleets outside of the state Department of Transportation and individual vehicle drivers. These figures don’t include the additional indirect savings from avoided traffic delays, lost productivity, or other consequences of corrosion-induced repair and replacement activities.

If unmitigated, these costs have been estimated by the Federal Highway Administration to be 10 times the costs of the corrosion itself. If all state roads in Colorado were treated with brines mixed with the Headwaters corrosion inhibitor, the company estimates the annual savings could exceed $14 million.

Corrosion is a big problem for bridges, as well as the cars and trucks that drive on brine-treated roads. A comprehensive 2012 report found that the corrosion and environmental costs pertinent to road treatments are at least $632 per ton of salt applied (adjusting the costs from the primary sources for inflation).

The 17 million tons of salt spread on roads, highways and bridges across the country in 2013 equates to about $8 billion in direct corrosion costs.