Larry Sutter knows about icy roads, having lived in Michigan’s snowy Upper Peninsula for most of his adult life. As a driver, he applauds state departments of transportation as they improve their deicing practices.
As an expert in concrete, though, he wonders whether these new deicing chemicals are eating away the highways.
The South Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT), along with eight other state DOTs, have hired the Michigan Tech faculty member and researcher to address that concern.
“Magnesium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate, among other chemicals, have proven very effective at deicing,” Sutter says. “But there is a lot in the literature about the negative effect of magnesium chloride on portland cement (the most common ingredient in concrete roads).
“The question is about the concentration of magnesium being used. Is it enough to worry about?”