Tyson implements brine system for treating icy roads

Mar 4, 2019

Last year Tyson Facilities Manager Pete Jamerson attended a Brining Workshop organized by WashU and the St. Louis Higher Education Sustainability Consortium. The workshop focused on the negative impacts of rock salt on our infrastructure and environment, and presented brining as an alternative for treatment of icy roads. Brining involves dissolving salt into a solution that can be sprayed on roads thereby dramatically decreasing both the amount of salt used and expense.

It opened my eyes to how bad the salinity was in some of our local creeks and rivers caused by the runoff containing salt from the roads in the winter months. In some areas, the small creeks’ salt levels would sky rocket, having a negative effect on the aquatic creatures living in the creeks. The class talked about some of the street departments switching over to using brine and how much you could reduce the overall use of salt.
— Pete Jamerson

This winter Pete and Facilities Technician Tim Derton hatched a plan. They designed a brine system for use at Tyson using mostly salvaged parts left over from old projects and broken equipment. “We took two 200 gallon tanks and hooked a short piece of garden hose to a flange at the bottom of one tank and ran it to one of the pumps, then we dropped that pump with another piece of garden hose coming off the output side into the top opening of the other 200 gallon tank and started recirculating the water from one tank to the other over the salt we poured into one of the tanks.” Pete said. The only piece of equipment they needed to purchase was a hydrometer, to test the salinity of the water, and a few PVC couplings. The overall cost came out to be less than $100.

Tyson’s brining system during a test run

Tyson’s brining system during a test run

To Pete and Tim’s astonishment, their setup worked flawlessly the first time and used even less brine solution than calculated. “That never happens with the things we make!” joked Tim. Since Tyson’s roads are 20 feet wide they cut the applicator to 10 feet so it can cover the entire 2.5 miles of paved road with one pass in each direction.

The new brining setup uses about 1/5 of the salt normally used to treat the Tyson roads. With cold temperatures and several precipitation events, the system has gotten a lot of use this winter. Pete and Tim are hoping the brine treatment they put down on Friday is the last time they have to use their invention this season.