• Environmentally more acceptable and more efficient than conventional gritting material;
• Used in the Nordic countries, Switzerland and Austria.
Salts of formic acid, which are known as formates, are now being used successfully in the Nordic countries, Switzerland and Austria to remove slippery ice from roads, sidewalks and bikeways. Compared to conventional gritting materials, these liquid de-icing agents act more efficiently and in a more environmentally acceptable manner. They are particularly suitable for removing thin coats of ice and can also be used as a preventive measure when weather forecasts predict snowfall and icy conditions. Moreover, they support swift and continuous de-icing and allow ice and snow to be easily removed by mechanical means.
As road salt based on sodium chloride is corrosive and non-biodegradable, it may harm plants. Grit and sand are controversial because their effect is limited, and they may even add to respirable dust loads as they are spread and recovered. In contrast, the salts of formic acid are environmentally acceptable and totally biodegradable, eliminating the effort and cost of waste disposal. As they are so easy on the environment, spreading them on tree-lined roads or close to surface waters poses no problem. In addition, these de-icing agents are less corrosive, yet highly effective even when used very sparingly.
A number of municipal authorities in the Nordic countries, Switzerland and Austria are already using formates successfully to clear roads in the winter. Enterprises and private consumers who care a lot about the environment and are technically minded as well rely increasingly on the de-icing agent. German local authorities, too, have started to show some interest this winter.
“We helped our customers to develop new uses for formates based on their years of experience in de-icing airport runways,” explained Sibylle Gruner, Formic Acid Marketing, BASF Intermediates division. BASF, the world’s most important formic acid manufacturer, has been supplying this product to customers who specialize in the production of highly efficient de-icing agents for airport runways since the early nineteen-nineties.
Formic acid – an all-rounder
Formic acid is used in leather manufacturing, helps to keep certain feeds fresh and free of salmonellae, removes paints and rust from metallic surfaces and scale from kettles and boilers. In breweries and wineries it disinfects kegs, casks and barrels; applied as an auxiliary in the pharmaceutical and crop protection industry it regulates pH values; and in cleaning it acts as a dirt remover and disinfectant. Apart from being used as de-icing agents, formic acid salts, or formates, are also valuable auxiliaries in oil production.
About BASF Intermediates
The BASF Group’s Intermediates (basf.de/intermediates) division develops, produces and markets around the world a comprehensive portfolio of more than 600 intermediates. The most important of the division’s product groups include amines, diols, polyalcohols, acids and specialties. Among other applications, intermediates are used as starting materials for coatings, plastics, pharmaceuticals, textile fibers, detergents and crop protectants. Innovative intermediates from BASF help to improve the properties of final products and the efficiency of production processes. The ISO 9001:2000-certified Intermediates division operates plants at production sites in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Around the globe, 2,630 employees of the division generated sales of about €2.5 billion to third parties in 2010.
BASF (basf.com) is the world’s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products, and agricultural products to oil and gas. As a reliable partner BASF creates chemistry to help its customers in virtually all industries to be more successful With its high-value products and intelligent solutions, BASF plays an important role in finding answers to global challenges such as climate protection, energy efficiency, nutrition and mobility. BASF posted sales of more than €63.9 billion in 2010 and had approximately 109,000 employees as of the end of the year. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (AN).