21 November 2019
United Arab Emirates
Sustainability

Acid ensures snow safety

November 21, 2019

When it gets cold and the first snow falls, a new season starts for David Ross. He works for Snowscapes, a snow removal company located in New Jersey, USA. Snowscapes provides its customers with winter storm care in heavily frequented logistics centers, industrial sites, office parks and shopping centers - and uses Entry®, a liquid de-icer based on BASF's formic acid chemistry.

"We strictly service sites that have a zero tolerance for snow," says Ross. "Long before a blizzard, we must be there. We must pre-treat all surfaces extensively so that snow doesn't stay in the ground in the first place." The company often found it difficult to find the right de-icing agent. This has recently changed because Snowscapes now uses "Entry Ice Melt", a biodegradable, chloride-free liquid de-icer from BASF's US-based customer Synatek Solutions. The product is derived from formic acid, which BASF manufactures at its site in Geismar, Louisiana.

The versatile formic acid originally occurs in nature: The acid is produced by ants, bees, caterpillar hairs, fir needles, nettles, numerous fruits and as salts in human urine. By making use of its chemical expertise BASF produces the organic acid for a number of applications. Examples include the preservation of animal feed, household and industrial cleaning and the manufacture of pharmaceuticals. The acid is also used in the production of potassium formate. Such formate salts are less corrosive and have a lower environmental impact than chloride salts, which are often used for de-icing. They are better tolerated by plants and animals. Since potassium formate is sprayed in liquid form onto the surface to be treated, no salt granules are tracked into buildings. 

Formic acid and BASF? 

As the "inventor" of formic acid, nature is also its most important producer. Based on the company’s chemical know-how BASF has been producing the acid since the 1930s. Because the acid is processed by many users all over the world, BASF is today the world's most important industrial producer of formic acid with production sites on three continents. The organic acid is one of BASF's all-time classics and is, as an “Accelerator”, also part of BASF's sustainability product portfolio.

This is how Entry Ice Melt works

It breaks down the hydrogen bonds that form when water freezes. Spraying removes thin layers of ice and snow and prevents new snow from accumulating or freezing. The product also lowers the freezing point of the water to about minus 53°C. More short videos about the winter with Entry can be found here:

Last Update 04 December 2019