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Keweenaw Snow Paver Anti-Icing and Deicing Research Elastomeric Coatings T.R.A.C.S. Vehicle Mobility Testing

Controlled Performance Testing of Deicing and Anti-Icing Chemicals


In recent years, there has been a major effort underway to develop new chemicals for use as deicers and anti-icers. This effort has been driven in part as a means to reduce environmental effects of winter maintenance operations as well as to enhance the ability of applied chemicals to act as anti-icers. The search for new methods to maintain pavements at an "acceptable" safety level can be broken into two major categories:

  1. Additives to lessen environmental impacts of currently used chemicals, and
  2. New chemical substances.

Mandates to reduce the use of some common freezing point depressants and the development of new chemicals with claims that these are bigger and better than the old way has put managers in a position to wonder how to decide what to use. Questions that must be asked are "What do I replace chemical X with now that I am no longer allowed to use it anymore?" and "Is there something better?". To answer these, a third question must be answered, "How do I figure out what is best?".


Testing at the Keweenaw Research Center has been carried out for several different reasons. The most common of these are companies wondering if their new chemical works, companies in need of performance documentation for a client or advertisement, buyers looking to decide between several prospective chemicals, and pure research of chemical additives and application scenarios.

Companies that are in the deicer market are always in need of comparison testing as well as new product testing. There has been a lot of interest in corrosion inhibitors and their effect on performance in the past couple of years. Performance testing has also been contracted for use in advertisement literature.

User perspective testing has generally been performed by government agencies looking to better serve the vehicle operating public and to try to decrease the cost of winter maintenance without degrading the level of service.

In some cases, companies are required to get a "seal of approval" by an outside testing institution before their chemical can be put on the list of potential deicers for a given market.

All of this said, there is a need for performance testing in several areas. This testing can generally be performed quite rapidly in the laboratory and then is usually brought into a larger field testing scenario of some sort.

Testing and Data

Test data open in a new window.

Ice Melting Test Apparatus Ice Melting
Ice Melting Tests are designed to quantify the volume of ice that can be melted by a unit of deicer at varying temperatures. This test is designated in SHRP-H-332 as SHRP H-205.1 for solid deicers and H-205.2 for liquid deicers. The photo to the left is of the Ice Melting test apparatus.
Test Data Sample
Ice Undercutting Test Apparatus Ice Undercutting
Ice Undercutting Tests are performed using SHRP H-205.5 for solid deicers and H-205.6 for liquid deicers. This test is designed to assess the amount of ice that can be loosened from the pavement by undercutting at the bond surface. The photo to the right is of the Ice Undercutting test apparatus.
Test Data Sample
Ice Penetration Test Apparatus Ice Penetration
Ice Penetration Tests are performed using SHRP H-205.3 for solid deicers and SHRP H-205.4 for liquid deicers. This test is designed to assess the thickness of ice that can be penetrated by a deicer to allow it to reach the pavement surface and start debonding. The photo to the left is of the Ice Penetration test apparatus.
Test Data Sample

Application Rates for Solid Deicers | Application Rates for Liquid Deicers | ISR Publications Related to Deicing

Friction Test Apparatus Friction Testing
Friction tests are performed using an apparatus designed to measure kinetic friction of a rubber block over a substrate sample. A friction measurement is made by pulling the rubber block over a pavement sample at a constant speed and measuring the load and displacement as the test progresses.
Test Data Sample
Frost Control Box Frost Formation
The phenomena that causes frost to grow is simulated to determing how well a chemical / aggregate combination can mitigate the formation of frost on the pavement surface. This control box was designed and built inside the KRC cold laboratory to simulate the frost growth phenomena.
Test Data Sample
Residual Effect of Chemicals Bond Strength and Reduction
Tests using this method have included assessment of the residual effect of chemicals on various pavements, development of "Anti-Icing Smart" pavement overlays, and several general anti-icing scenarios. Traffic and storm simulation methods are used to determine how well chemicals perform with time.
Test Data Sample
Asphalt Pavement Section Controlled Site Testing
Controlled field testing of chemicals normally takes place on an asphalt pavement section. Test chemicals are applied to test sites measuring 10' in width by 50' in length. Test sites are plowed before applying chemicals. After chemical application, the Saab Friction Tester (SFT) is used to measure how well each chemical is performing.

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