With the popularity of brine and beet juice as ice-control ingredients growing across the suburbs, Wauconda officials on Tuesday discussed what could be the next big thing in winter road safety: molasses.
Harvey Williams, the project manager for a Dixon firm called Concept to Project Management, spoke to the village's public works committee and department members about molasses' wintry uses.
Produced from sugar beets in the sugar manufacturing process, the sweet, syrupy substance can be added to brine and calcium chloride to melt snow and ice on roadways, Williams said.
As with beet juice, it's the sugar in the molasses that melts the snow and ice and keeps roads safer for automobiles, Williams said. When combined with brine, it slows down the freezing process and helps make road salt work longer.
It also helps salt bond better to the pavement, Williams said.
Due to improvements in the sugar manufacturing process, quality beet juice is harder to come by, he said. Molasses, however, is plentiful.
Additionally, it costs the same as beet juice and can be mixed and spread with the same equipment used for beet juice, Williams said.
Wauconda uses a mix of brine and calcium chloride to treat roads during winter storms. Williams estimated the equipment needed to add beet juice or molasses to the mix would cost the village about $15,426.
Trustee John Barbini was particularly interested in the environmental benefits of using molasses or beet juice on the town's roads. The products are organic and far better for plant and animal life than salt, Williams said.
"We've got a lake to be concerned about," Barbini said.
Using beet products would save the village money, too, because buying tons of road salt every year is more expensive, officials said.
The committee didn't take any action on the matter. However, the group decided to recommend the board spend about $9,023 to purchase equipment that will allow a second public works truck to spread brine and calcium chloride on roads this winter.
The village board could approve the purchase, from Williams' company, next week. The gear could be ready for installation in about one month, he said.