Michigan Tech News

SafeLane Gains Traction: Spin-Off Fine-Tuned for Walkways and Parking Areas

Phone: 906-487-2354

By Marcia Goodrich


Last Modified 3:42 PM, July 20, 2009

January 25, 2007—

Russ Alger’s SafeLane is making bridges and roads safer in 17 states and climbing. Now, he’s developed a similar product for homeowners and businesses.

SafeLane, which is being marketed by Cargill, is a mix of epoxy and aggregate rock applied to pavement. When liquid anti-icing chemicals are applied to the overlay before ice or snowstorms hit, the material acts like a rigid sponge, storing the chemicals inside and automatically releasing them as wintery conditions develop. The result is safer surfaces with better traction and less maintenance, because the overlay helps prevent ice or frost from forming.

Now that the product has exceeded expectations on roads and bridges, Alger, a project manager/research leader at the Keweenaw Research Center, has fine-tuned SafeLane for surfaces such as walkways and parking lots.

“All along, we’ve wanted to get into this niche—like the entrances to Walmart, schools and hospitals,” he says. “When we talked with people about what they wanted, they said the regular SafeLane would be too rough. So we made samples with a smaller aggregate.”

The kinder, gentler SafeLane, dubbed SafeLane CA-48, is now covering parking lots and outdoor work areas at half a dozen sites in Maine, Connecticut and Iowa.

SafeLane CA-48 is also cheaper; because it doesn’t have to stand up to county snow plows, it requires a single layer of epoxy instead of the usual two. And most projects can be done without the use of heavy equipment. For now, contractors install the overlay, but Alger envisions a day when when five-gallon pails of epoxy and aggregate will be on sale at hardware stores everywhere.

“Then, you’ll be able to put it on yourself,” he says.

For more information on SafeLane, including reports on its effectiveness, visit http://www.cargillsafelane.com .

Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.