Tuesday, February 21, 2012

patentECO - Green Snow Removal

I Don’t Mind Snow, But I Can Do Without Ice

As I write this article in very early 2012, it is snowing here in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. A nice, gentle dusting of snow. Very unlike the Snowmageddon of 2009-2010. I’ve seen no indication of any snow removal equipment yet this morning, which reminds me, what about clean snow removal technology in the patentECO sphere?

For many years, various mixtures of grit and rock salt have been used on highways for snow removal and ice control. More recently, chemical compounds and mixtures that have a lower negative environmental impact and greater melting efficiency have been used.

Two recent patents illustrate this shift.

Patent number 7,879,254, “Snow removal agent and preparation method,” was issued on February 1, 2011 to Seung Cheol Jung and Moo Woong Jung, both of Incheon, South Korea. This patent is a continuation of patent number 7,666,324, “Snow removal agent and preparation method thereof,” issued the previous February 23 to the same inventors. Both patents are classified as 252/70, which are inventions for frost-preventing, ice-thawing, thermostatic, thermophoric, or cryogenic compositions.

The earliest US patent in this class and subclass was patent number 533,950, “Composition for melting snow,” issued in February, 1895. This early invention used a combination of water, common salt, acetic acid, and hydrochloric acid — perhaps not the best combination if one is interested in reducing environmental impacts.

Claim 1 of the ‘254 patent states:

“A snow removal agent for melting snow, comprising magnesium chloride, halite, urea, sodium tripolyphosphate and sodium metasilicate, wherein the sodium tripolyphosphate and the sodium metasilicate each account for an identical weight percentage in the agent, wherein the halite is crushed to a size of 7-20 mm and aged for 24-48 hours.”

Jung and Jung point out that their invention “reduces the corrosion of metallic materials of iron structures, automobiles, etc., is safe when used for a long period of time, is without the problem of re-freezing, significantly reduces the yellowing and withering of plants and is good for the growth of plants . . .” Further, their snow removal agent is “unharmful to plants, fish and shellfish.”

We find this invention in the patentECO Industrial index, which includes green chemistry and clean industrial technology. The slogan used by DuPont from 1935-1982, “Better Things for Better Living . . . Through Chemistry” certainly fits here.