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.