Denver Broncos stay safe during winter training thanks to new ice-melt solution
The football team’s headquarters say goodbye to granular salt deicers and hello to a better alternative.
BY ANNA SPIEWAK
Brooks Dodson is the Director of Sports Turf & Grounds for The Denver Broncos Football Club and that is no small feat. He is responsible for approximately 26 acres of property at The UCHealth Training Center—the corporate headquarters of the Denver Broncos.
Therefore, when winter rolls around, he is the one responsible for the highly valued football stars’ safety, players who cannot afford any slip-and-fall accidents and sit out the entire season. Add to that mix the amount of media, staff and fans that visit the property and come through the center’s doors—and walkway safety is a must.
“Getting everyone in/out and around the facility safely is our responsibility, and we take that seriously. We don’t want anyone hurt,” said Dodson.
As a result, every year, Dodson’s facility staff would bring out the calcium chloride—various salt deicers—and apply it with a spreader or a cup to prevent slippery walkways. However, the granular-salt product residue would be dragged indoors, damaging carpets, tiles and concrete in and around the buildings.
“When you are handling or spreading bags of ice melt … you can smell it and if the wind is wrong it’ll get in your mouth and you can taste it. I don’t know about you, but I prefer not putting that type of stuff in my body,” he added.
Dodson decided it was time to seek out a more environmentally friendly product—in the form of a liquid.
He attended the Sports Turf Managers Association tradeshow last winter and found just that in Entry. Entry ice melt is a liquid deicer based on potassium formate, a cleaner alternative to chloride-based salts, derived from formic acid, an organic acid produced locally by BASF Corp. in Geismar, Louisiana. Formate salts are less corrosive and have a lesser impact on surrounding flora, which makes them both more plant and pet friendly. Entry breaks down hydrogen bonds formed when water freezes. As a result, once the product is sprayed, it removes thin layers of ice and snow, and prevents new snow from accumulating or icing. Entry reduces the freezing point of water to approximately minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit.
After meeting the manufacturer of the product—SynaTek Solutions—at the tradeshow, which uses BASF’s chemistry, Dodson tried out the liquid product and never went back to the bagged granular salt again.
“Entry performed exactly how we had hoped,” Dodson added. “Application is very simple and there is no residue. Entry is environmentally friendly and performs faster than the granular products we have used in the past.”
In addition to the newer liquid form of deicing being cleaner and faster acting, it is also environmentally friendlier—since potassium formate is easily biodegradable, and chloride and urea-free, so it doesn’t damage the ecosystems—which is important to the Denver Broncos facility manager.
“We try to be good stewards of the environment. We are very cognizant of the products and chemicals we use around our facility and the impact they have on our environment, not only on-site but downstream as well,” said Dodson. “Colorado is a beautiful state and water is one of our most valuable natural resources, specifically ground water. The products we use ultimately run off into our creeks, rivers and reservoirs. We want to make sure we are doing all we can to eliminate or minimize any negative impact on our environment and our water sources.”
Entry is used all around the UCHealth Training Center, specifically at entryways, concrete steps and sidewalks, and in front of the team store that garners a high amount of traffic. In fact, although the Denver Broncos stadium is located 25 miles north of the UCHealth Training Facility, its operators caught wind of Dodson’s use of this new liquid deicer and its benefits, and now they are picking up the product to use for the stadium, according to Dodson.
“Entry is a cleaner, safer, effective product that does not destroy your concrete or building interiors,” he concluded.
Moreover, to think that all of this was made possible thanks to chemistry in action.
“We’re excited to see the final results of our formic acid product, along with the efforts of working closely with SynaTek Solutions, play out in the field, benefitting the end user,” said Timothy Cavanaugh, Ph.D., Business Manager, Acids and Polyalcohols, BASF, referring to the chemistry behind the product.