Research Projects | In Progress Projects

RSS feed for this section

Determining the Migration of Chloride-based Deicers through Different Soil Types

Problem

With the adoption of chloride deicer programs, the need to understand how those runoff chlorides migrate into the adjacent environment has presented an issue for planners in many organizations. The ability to understand how chloride deicers move, disperse in, or migrate through, varying soil types would help to identify sensitive areas that may need adjustment to chloride deployment rates to help protect public and private aquifers.

Objectives

The goal of this project is to provide winter maintenance teams with a thorough understanding of how sodium chloride, calcium chloride and magnesium chloride migrate through different soil textures – and how agricultural-based inhibitors affect that process.

Expected Results

The deliverables from this project – specifically a series of one-page fact sheets based on the results of a controlled testing program – will assist agencies in developing localized maintenance treatment plans.

Continue Reading

Calculating Plow Cycle Times from AVL Data

Problem

How often does a snowplow cycle through a given point on a highway? This is a question that changes based on weather and road conditions, but a long term average of this data would be an interesting and useful metric for snow and ice performance evaluation, route optimization, and resource allocation.

Objectives

The goal of this project is to develop a methodology to calculate plow cycle times, considering various relevant factors. This methodology will then be used to create the framework for a visualization tool that agencies can format with their own electronic data.

Expected Results

By developing a methodology for this calculation and an online tool to visualize the data, agencies will have the ability to track snowplows in real-time and make operational adjustments as needed to maximize efficiency. Additionally, agencies will have greater insight for post-storm analyses, performance evaluations, route optimization strategies, and resource allocation efforts while leveraging data they likely already collect during the course of their routine winter maintenance activities.

Continue Reading

Update to CR 13-04: Best Practices for Protecting DOT Equipment from the Corrosion Effect of Chemical Deicers

Problem

Corrosion to maintenance equipment resulting from the use of chloride deicers is a challenge for transportation agencies across North America. While there were many products and much anecdotal guidance for the prevention of corrosion, there was not a consolidated guide that combined all of the available knowledge on corrosion prevention for use by snow and ice control practitioners. In May 2015, Clear Roads published a Manual of Best Practices, which provided guidelines for corrosion management on highway maintenance equipment.

Objectives

The goal of this project is to update and expand Chapter 5.4 of the 2015 Clear Roads Project 13-04 publication, Manual of Best Practices for the Prevention of Corrosion on Vehicles and Equipment used by Transportation Agencies for Snow and Ice Control, by looking at the various coatings available on the market, from 2013 to the present, and conduct side-by-side comparison testing based on the application method.

Expected Results

The product testing conducted for this project will provide a more robust evaluation of the performance of anti-corrosion coatings that is necessary to provide agencies with the information needed to select suitable anti-corrosion coatings for their valuable equipment.

Continue Reading

Efficacy, Cost, and Impacts of Non-Chloride Deicers

Problem

Transportation agencies routinely use chlorides in their winter maintenance practices, which can contaminate road-side wells and waterways. Because of these potential adverse effects, agencies would like to better understand the range of non-chloride-based deicers that could serve as viable alternatives.

Objectives

To collect and synthesize available information about non-chloride deicing products from available research and present the information as a comparison to chloride-based deicers in educational primers and product information sheets. Using the Mechanical Rocker Test developed by University of Nebraska / Nebraska DOT, investigators will provide an examination and documentation of the performance of selected non-chloride deicers from the Clear Roads Qualified Products List (QPL) that have not yet been effectively tested.

Expected Results

From this environmental data, investigators will recommend environmental testing standards to be added to Test Methods 15 through 20 of Clear Roads Guidance Document for Material Qualified Products List, Specifications, Test Methods, and Product Purchasing, which address Toxicity, Ammonia – Nitrogen, Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen, Biological Oxygen Demand and Chemical Oxygen Demand tests.

Continue Reading

Training Module Development for Evaluation of Storm Severity Index and Winter Severity Index Variables

Problem

The Clear Roads project Evaluation of SSI and WSI Variables developed a step-by-step guide and flowchart tool to help agencies identify or develop severity index methods that fit their needs and their available data sources. The final report represents the most comprehensive work on this complicated topic. However, the complexity and size of the report present a hurdle to managers’ and practitioners’ ability to understand these findings and apply them to their operations. This important topic is an increasing concern among snow and ice managers as they attempt to develop accurate level of service measurements.

Objectives

The goal of this dissemination and implementation project is to develop Clear Roads training modules for three general audiences, including division directors, snow and ice managers, and supervisors.

Expected Results

The outcome of this project will be detailed training modules that synthesize the material from CR 18-03 into 30- to 60-minute segments tailored to the three target audiences. These modules would include audiovisual materials, discussion topics, and interactive exercises (knowledge checks) required to provide complete training on this topic.

Continue Reading

Grip Sensor Technology and Salt Applications

Problem

Many agencies have snowplows capable of gathering pavement friction and other data as they travel along their routes, but most do not use that information to make operational adjustments in real time.

Objectives

The goal of this project is to gain a more complete understanding of how, and for what purpose, various transportation agencies put friction data to use within their own programs.

Expected Results

This project will provide winter maintenance teams with an algorithm or decision matrix that incorporates pavement friction and other data to advise the appropriate type and application rate of deicing materials in real time.

Continue Reading

Evaluation of Electric Vehicle Technologies and Alternative Fuels for Winter Operations

Problem

As renewable energy becomes more cost-effective and commonplace, agencies may choose to begin replacing their winter maintenance vehicles and equipment with a fleet that has a smaller carbon footprint. There are, however, a number of issues that transportation agencies with winter maintenance programs should consider before converting an existing diesel-fueled winter maintenance fleet to one powered by electric vehicle technologies (EVT) or alternative fuels.

Objectives

The goal of this project is to provide agencies that rely on diesel-powered winter maintenance fleets with a thorough understanding of the available technologies and related operational considerations that would be impacted by a transition to a fleet powered by EVT or alternative fuels.

Expected Results

Investigators will research EVT as well as identify what alternative fuels are viable for use in winter maintenance vehicles and heavy equipment, and a comparison of the benefits and challenges each energy source offers. This information will form the basis for a synthesis report that agencies can reference in their decision-making process.

Continue Reading

Using GIS to Highlight Highway Segments Sensitive to Deicing Materials

Problem

The effects of deicers on environmental resources are varied and complex. The impacts to sensitive species, protected resources, and human exposure are important factors when considering the appropriate use of deicers on roadways and must be balanced with public safety and expectations. With the difficulty in identifying environmentally sensitive corridors, states are unable to assign the proper equipment and apply chemicals at the appropriate rates to avoid further environmental degradation of both surface and ground water with chloride and sodium.

Objectives

The goal of this project is to improve operational planning to help agencies identify the roadway segments where vulnerable environmental resources may be impacted by snow and ice control activities.

Expected Results

This project will develop a geospatial tool that incorporates data about roadways, topography, hydrology, and ecology to model the impact of de-icing chemical application on the local environment. This information can then be used by maintenance personnel to adjust material application to balance mobility and environmental concerns.

Continue Reading

Expanded Use of AVL/GPS Technology

Problem

Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technologies installed in winter maintenance vehicles have the potential to support summer road maintenance vehicles to improve asset tracking and management practices, as well as other purposes such as process automation and paperwork reduction for field staff in terms of activity reporting. The use of AVL/GPS systems to support both winter and summer maintenance activities can help justify the expenses incurred with respect to hardware / software acquisition and training costs across a wide range of applications.

Objectives

The goal of this project is to help state transportation agencies optimize the value gained from the acquisition of AVL/GPS units by deploying them year-round, rather than just in winter maintenance operations.

Expected Results

This project will help fleet managers demonstrate the additional return on investment that can be realized through the use of these systems for year-round maintenance activities.

Continue Reading

Evaluation of Indoor Automated Stockpile Measurement Systems

Problem

Accurately measuring indoor salt stockpiles has traditionally been a challenge for transportation agencies. Clear Roads is interested in examining a range of existing and emerging approaches to indoor stockpile measurement, including systems using LiDAR, photogrammetry, surveying, acoustic sensing, and drone technology. In particular, Clear Roads is interested in automated or semi-automated systems that have the capability to measure a stockpile, and transmit the data to a central location.

Objectives

The goal of this project is to conduct a data-driven evaluation of currently available automated or semi-automated indoor salt stockpile measuring systems in order to improve agencies’ day-to-day management of their salt stockpile inventories.

Expected Results

By automating this process, states could improve their inventory management and minimize costly rush orders of salt.

Continue Reading