We all know this winter has been chillier than years past. With below freezing temperatures and snowstorms affecting millions of people, the need for assistance in clearing roadways and maintaining equipment has been great. De-icing fluid is used to break down ice and frost on roadways and for air travel. It is used fairly frequently during the winters across the country, especially this winter. There are several chemicals used in the de-icing process, including brine, magnesium chloride, propylene glycol, and ethylene glycol. These chemicals are popular choices, due to cost and effectiveness. Brine is the most popular of all these chemicals but can damage vehicles or rebar on roadways. The type of substance used for de-icing depends on its application, the location’s level of snowfall and winter temperatures.
The Use of De-Icing Fluids
On roadways, de-icing fluids are used to break down snow and ice and provide a safe passage for drivers. De-icing fluids are also used on airplanes, to ensure that ice does not interfere with the plane’s ability to maneuver in the air. These fluids are essential to ensuring that critical sensors and ports remain unblocked during flight.
Whichever chemical is used during the de-icing process, it is important that it is stored safely so that the integrity of the chemical is not compromised and it is contained due to environmental regulations.
How Poly Processing Stores De-Icing Fluids
Containment of de-icing fluid is critical both from an environmental perspective as well as chemical integrity. Poly Processing manufactures a double wall tank called the SAFE-Tank. Looking at the chemical resistance chart, it is easy to see that we store these four common de-icing fluids in a way that protects both the integrity of the tank, the makeup of the fluid, and the environment. Let’s take a closer look at each of these chemicals.
Brine is made up of salt and water. Normally consisting of 23 - 33% salt and the rest water. As stated before Brine is the most popular de-icing fluid because of cost but has limitations in lower temperatures and areas where salt damage cannot be tolerated.
Magnesium chloride is often used on streets in areas of very low temperatures, with many of these locations being at higher altitudes, in the mountains, or uphill. The use of Magnesium Chloride, also sometimes referred to as MAG, was once thought to be a safe and powerful ice melting solution. However, today there is scientific information and evidence of the concrete damaging effects of magnesium chloride. Any chemical spill that occurs runs a much higher risk of contaminating the natural resources around the tank, as well as all of those that might be at a lower altitude.
Ethylene glycol is a de-icing fluid that is much more expensive than Brine or MAG and is used less on road surfaces and more on aircrafts. Incompatible tank materials for ethylene glycol include all types of linear high-density polyethylene; high-density cross-linked polyethylene must be used for the tank’s material.
Propylene glycol is often used as a safer, less-toxic substitute for ethylene glycol in aircraft de-icing applications, but still must be handled properly because of its potential for contamination. With a specific gravity of 1.04, the suggested material for tanks that will be storing propylene glycol is high-density cross-linked polyethylene.
The Role of a SAFE-Tank In Storing De-Icing Fluids
The SAFE-Tank containment and storage system functions as a "tank within a tank," otherwise known as a double wall tank system. Since it is built from high density cross-linked polyethylene that is capable of holding the de-icing chemical without issue, there is no need to designate a large area for a concrete containment structure. In the case of a spill, the risks of damage or lost product is mitigated with very little downtime.
The value of a SAFE-Tank includes a naturally built-in 110 percent secondary containment tank without compromise to chemical quality in case of a spill. Even if there is damage to the inner tank, the tank works to equalize the liquid level and can be used until the chemicals inside have been depleted. It essentially becomes a single wall tank at this point until repaired. This means tank repairs are not emergencies, saving you critical time and money.
The dome structure of a SAFE-Tank prevents water and debris from entering the containment tank due to its mushroom like design, which eliminates the risk of false positives for leak detection.
The SAFE-Tank system can be double wall piped from the tank to wherever you want the pipe to terminate using the industry’s only true fully contained double wall tank transition fitting. This important fitting drains the primary tank through the containment tank while acting as a secondary containment around the fitting. You can mount a 6” flange to the outside of the transition fitting and run double wall piping while keeping everything fully contained.