Making brine in a homemade contraption wasn’t cutting it for Jim Craw, the superintendent of public works for the village of Fayetteville, N.Y. Craw knew there had to be a way to achieve more consistent and cost-effective results with less hassle.
While attending an APWA show, Craw came across an automated brine maker from Cargill Deicing Technology . After evaluating other brine-making options at the show and online, Craw came to the conclusion that the system was the only one that could meet his needs.
“Before getting the (automated brine maker), we sort of eyeballed our brine formulas, using general calculations for adding hot mixes or determining salinity, Craw said. “With the system, there’s no guessing. It delivers consistent brine, with precise mixtures. In fact, the system has reduced the amount of additives we go through each season.”
As of 2008, Fayetteville has been using the system for two years. Last year alone, the village made more than 100,000 gal of brine. But why such a large amount for a small village?
Fayetteville is a test model for all of New York. Along with fulfilling its own brine needs, Fayetteville is also providing brine to the New York Department of Transportation for regional deicing efforts on interstate highways. “We’re happy to be well ahead of the brine curve,” Craw said.
Among the many unique aspects of the Fayetteville brine program is its water supply, which comes from a naturally salinized well. Because of this, the system only needs to add about 5% salinity to the brine mix. At times, however, the well-water’s salinity can be higher than needed. In these cases, the system can be used to water down the salt content to achieve the desired salinity level.
The system’s automated logging and “true computer operation” were paramount to Craw’s decision. ”Having a digital controller opens many opportunities for us. We’re actually in the process of an upgrade that will allow us to use RFID chips right at the brine tank to record how much brine each truck is using,” Craw said. “Since the state DOT and others use our brine, tracking quantities for billing is very important.”
It hasn’t been exactly calculated, but by using the system, Craw estimates his department has cut costs by 5% to 7% “or quite possibly even more. In work hours alone, we’ve saved a lot. The automated process is a big time saver, as is the washout. Before we’d have to climb in the thing with a power sprayer. Now, it’s done in no time.”
Currently, Fayetteville has no plans to expand the scale of its brine program. However, because the village is serving as a brine pilot program for New York, Craw expects the use and acceptance of brine to grow immensely across the state in the upcoming years.