Researchers develop new efficient, environmentally friendly deicer

New deicing mixture offers higher performance than deicers on the market.


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The widespread use of deicers in urban areas and on aircraft runways has raised significant concerns regarding their environmental impact. While deicers are essential for ensuring safety on frozen roads and runways, their long-term use has been linked to environmental degradation.

In response to this challenge, researchers at Osaka Metropolitan University have developed a cutting-edge deicing mixture that offers higher performance than deicers on the market while also having less impact on the environment.

The team, consisting of graduate student Kai Ito, Assistant Professor Arisa Fukatsu, Associate Professor Kenji Okada, and Professor Masahide Takahashi of the Graduate School of Engineering, utilized machine learning to study the ice-melting mechanisms of aqueous solutions of 21 salts and 16 organic solvents.

The study delved into the correlation between ice penetration capacity (IPC) and various physical properties using cutting-edge techniques like extreme gradient boosting (XGBoost) and Shapley additive explanation (SHAP). The analysis identified three primary ice-melting mechanisms: freezing-point depression, interactions between deicers and H2O molecules, and infiltration of ions into ice crystals.

The SHAP analysis uncovered distinct ice-melting factors and mechanisms for salts and organic solvents, hinting at the potential benefits of their combination. Particularly, a blend of propylene glycol (PG) and sodium formate displayed impressive environmental impact and IPC.

Measuring ice penetration capacity.
Measuring ice penetration capacity. Credit: Osaka Metropolitan University

Compared to six existing deicers, the PG and sodium formate combination exhibited significantly higher IPC, showcasing promising prospects for sustainable deicing practices.

Due to the effectiveness of this mixture, a smaller amount of the substance is needed, reducing its environmental impact. Furthermore, it is non-corrosive, which prevents damage, especially when used on airport runways.

“We are proposing an effective and environmentally friendly deicer that combines the advantages of salts and organic solvents,” exclaimed Dr. Fukatsu.

“The development of highly efficient deicers is expected to make deicing and anti-icing operations easier,” Professor Takahashi added. “This will also lessen the environmental impact by reducing the amount of deicer used.”

This research offers crucial insights into the ice-melting process and proposes an environmentally friendly deicer that harnesses the strengths of organic solvents and salts, thereby paving the way for more sustainable deicing methods.

Journal reference:

  1. Kai Ito, Arisa Fukatsu, Kenji Okada & Masahide Takahashi. Machine learning-assisted chemical design of highly efficient deicers. Scientific Reports, 2024; DOI: 10.1038/s41598-024-62942-y


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