College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Better ways to clear snow and ice

As you watch the falling snow, do you marvel at the beauty of the scene or immediately dread driving to work on icy pavement?

Most of our nation’s roads get at least some snow most years, and that means clearing snow and ice from pavement is big business. For highways alone, agencies in the U.S. spend $2.3 billion each season trying to remove snow and ice. And billions more are spent by local governments battling Mother Nature on city streets and county roads.

A traditional way of addressing roadway snow and ice is by spreading salt. In my home state of Washington, workers use about 4 tons of salt in each lane of a mile’s worth of pavement each year. In Minnesota the figure is 9 tons per lane per mile, and in New York it’s a whopping 12 tons.

“That reflects the fact salt is cheap in New York — and they have high traffic volume as well as lots of snow in places like around the Great Lakes,” said Professor Xianming Shi. Shi is a civil engineer at Washington State University. He researches new and better ways to melt ice on pavement or even prevent it from accumulating in the first place.

The problem with road salt is that it doesn’t vanish with the snow. Instead, via snowmelt, it trickles into groundwater and pollutes local streams and well water. The Environmental Protection Agency recently reported high levels of sodium and chloride, the ingredients of common table salt, in East Coast groundwater. The runoff from roadway salt threatens drinking water supplies, Shi told me.

For a number of years there have been some greener alternatives to spreading salt on roads. Any substance that lowers the freezing point of water can be helpful. One alternative substance that’s well established is a waste product from sugar beet refining.

“That’s a well-known, patented technology,” Shi said.

Shi and his research team are looking at local wastes that can be upcycled for winter roadway operations. These materials range from residue from wine production to materials from flower growers and the biodiesel industry.

Another goal of the work is to find substances that are less corrosive but achieve the same level of pavement friction.

“Magnesium chloride is sometimes sprayed on roads to combat ice,” Shi said. “But magnesium exchanges with calcium in concrete at depth.”

That exchange weakens the concrete, a bit like an elderly person losing bone mass. Overall, the strength of the concrete can be reduced by up to 50 percent.

“So we need to design concrete to better withstand exposure to magnesium chloride,” Shi told me.

It would be wonderful, of course, if pavement resisted the accumulation of ice. The texture of pavement can be manipulated to some extent to resist ice buildup. Nano- and micro-sized particles can be added to concrete to weaken its bond to ice or compacted snow.

“It’s more costly,” Shi said. “Still, it can be useful in some places, like in mountain passes.”

There’s some good research in progress at WSU. But while waiting for further developments, don’t throw out your back as you shovel.

 

Dr. E. Kirsten Peters, a native of the rural Northwest, was trained as a geologist at Princeton and Harvard. This column is a service of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University.

 

 

CAHNRS is more than agriculture. With 24 majors, 19 minors, and 27 graduate level programs, we are one of the largest, most diverse colleges at WSU. CAHNRS Cougs are making a difference in the wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities, improving ecological and economic systems, and advancing agricultural sciences.

Featured Event

Illustration of a woman holding wine near a music band. Text over the image reads: The Auction of Washington Wines Wine and Music Festival, WSU Tri-Cities Campus, June 10, Saturday 6 pm. Learn More. Support Wine.

FACTS

Diversity

With 24 majors, 19 minors, and 27 graduate level programs, CAHNRS is one of the largest, most diverse colleges at WSU.

Scholarships

CAHNRS students are awarded more than $600,000 in scholarships annually.

Discovery

CAHNRS leads in discovery through its high-quality research programs. In 2014, CAHNRS received research funding exceeding $81.5M. This accounts for nearly 40% of all research funding received by WSU.  

Opportunity

CAHNRS has 39 student clubs and organizations to enhance student experiences and opportunities.

Job Opportunities


4-H Youth Development Program Associate Director (pdf)
Position # 124955



CAHNRS Academic Programs

Fall undergradsUndergraduate Studies

Check out what our academic departments and programs have to offer, from Interior Design to Agriculture to Wildlife Ecology. We have 13 departments and schools to prepare you for your chosen career.

Grad student dogGraduate Studies

Students have a variety of options to pursue masters and doctoral degrees. Many of these have very specific background requirements, so we suggest exploring the individual programs for academic guidelines.

CTLLCenter for
Transformational
Learning & Leadership

The CTLL is a student, faculty, alumni and industry partner collaboration for high quality learning and leadership beyond the classroom.

 

Inspiring Teamwork - Arron Carter pic

Inspiring Teamwork – Arron Carter

It started with a car, a ’69 Corvette Stingray to be exact.

When Arron Carter, the director of the Washington State University Winter Wheat Breeding Program, was in high school his agricultural teacher had a ’69 Corvette Stingray. Every year this teacher would let his favorite senior take the car to senior prom. Carter had never taken an agriculture class before, but he knew he wanted to drive that car.

“Well, if I’m going to be the favorite senior,” Carter said to himself, “I’d better start taking some ag classes.”…

Read More: Inspiring Teamwork – Arron Carter

 










CAHNRS Office of Research

Agricultural Research Center

Mission Statement

The goal of the Washington State University CAHNRS Office of Research is to promote research beneficial to the citizens of Washington. The Office of Research recognizes its unique land-grant research mission to the people of Washington and their increasing global connections. The CAHNRS Office of Research provides leadership in discovering and applying knowledge through high-quality research that contributes to a safe and abundant food, fiber, and energy supply while enhancing the sustainability of agricultural and natural resource systems.

Research Update

Washington State University’s screening continues to find no evidence of glyphosate herbicide resistance in Pacific Northwest wheat varieties

In each of the last three years (2014, 2015 and 2016), the field screening process has involved over 80 varieties, 2,000 advanced breeding lines and more than 35,000 individual plots from WSU cereal breeding and variety evaluation programs. Collectively, varieties included in these trials represent over 95 percent of the wheat acreage planted in Washington.

Featured Research

Want fries with that? Stealth potato virus threatens industry

Newly emerged viruses threaten the U.S. potato industry, including potatoes grown in Washington. Several newly evolved strains of the disease known as potato virus Y, or PVY, can render potatoes unmarketable and reduce crop yield. What’s worse is the new viruses are particularly difficult to detect with the naked eye.

Horned larks undeterred by efforts to protect canola seedlings

Horned larks are turning up in droves near Lind, Wash. and decimating newly planted winter and spring canola fields despite multiple efforts to deter them.

In search of the perfect steak

Imagine taking your first bite of a $40 rib-eye steak—only to chew on beef that’s as tough as shoe leather. Talk about disappointment! “A tough steak is not a pleasant experience,” says Frank Hendrix, a WSU Extension Educator and animal scientist.

Workshops to discuss changing water forecast for Columbia Basin

How changing water availability in the Columbia River Basin could affect people, farms and fish is the focus of a series of free public workshops in June. Scheduled for June 21, 22 and 23 in Richland, Wenatchee and Spokane, the workshops give a first look at the 2016 Columbia River Basin Long-Term Water Supply and Demand Forecast.

After landslide, communities rewarded for resilience

Two years after the deadly landslide that devastated the Oso, Wash., area, the towns of Darrington and Arlington were announced April 27 as finalists in the America’s Best Communities (ABC) competition.

$11M funds food safety tech transfer to markets

WSU aims to meet growing demand for safe, high quality, additive-free packaged foods thanks to two recent investments in innovative food processing technology based on microwave energy.




Alumni & Friends

Welcome to alumni, friends, and supporters of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS). You are a core part of our CAHNRS Coug family and have made major impacts in our college, communities, and throughout the world. We recognize only a handful of them here.

More than 9,000 alumni and friends contributed to our Campaign for WSU, the most ambitious fundraising effort in university history. The campaign concluded in 2015 with $215 million and endless amounts of impact. Here is a glimpse of what transpired in the Campaign.

Although the campaign concluded, momentum continues to make a difference in our land-grant mission and education. On-going investment in time and resources from our alumni and friends helps to advance our best programs, attract the most talented faculty, and support our brightest students.

There are so many ways to stay involved with CAHNRS. Share your news in the college’s magazine ReConnect. Get involved with student success or support our college as whole by making a gift to the CAHNRS Excellence Fund.

 

Contact Us

CAHNRS Alumni & Development
PO Box 646228
Pullman, WA 99164-6228
PH: 509-335-2243
alumni.friends@wsu.edu







Faculty & Staff

Important Dates and Deadlines

 

A-Z Index of Faculty and Staff Resources:

  • Click letters to sort alphabetically
  • Click individual items to view or download

Contact Dean’s Office:
Hulbert 421
PO Box 646242
Pullman WA 99164-6242
cahnrs.deans@wsu.edu
509-335-4561

Lisa Johnson:
Assistant to the Dean
Hulbert 421C
PO Box 646242
Pullman WA 99164-6242
janowski@wsu.edu
509-335-3590







How many varieties of wheat has WSU developed?

Correct!

Incorrect

Sentence or two with more info about the subject.