Company initiatives, Video

Formic acid as eco-friendly deicing agent

While I’m still working on the blog’s weekly news roundup, here is an interesting video from BASF about the use of formic acid (in the form of potassium formate – a biodegradable salt of formic acid) as  a deicing agent.

It features how potassium formate dissolves the crystalline structure of ice and if used in airport runways, the melted water with potassium formate enters a waste water treatment plant in the airport where the chemical reportedly breaks down harmlessly into carbon dioxide and hydroxide ions (as it combined with oxygen molecules).

BASF is also touting the lower oxygen demand of potassium formate to biodegrade compared to other deicing agents such as potassium acetate, glycerol, propylene glycol and urea. Rivertop Renewables pops up in my head when talking about deicers. The company has been supplying the Montana Department of Transportation with biobased corrosion inhibitors for liquid deicers.

I guess demand for formic acid has been on the rise as BASF is currently constructing a new formic acid plant in Geismar, La., with annual capacity of 50,000 tonnes. The new facility is expected to be completed by mid-2014. BASF said its customers use formic acid as an eco-friendly solution in a wide range of applications such as animal feed preservatives, roads and runway de-icing, household and industrial cleaning, pharmaceutical and other chemical intermediates, and promotion of oil and gas extraction.

I don’t know the chemistry behind the biodegradability of potassium formate in deicers but there was one comment from YouTube on how is its activation energy during oxidation process, and whether if that is comparable with other deicing agents.


About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.


One Response to “Formic acid as eco-friendly deicing agent”

  1. Formates have about 1/3 the chemical oxygen demand of current acetate deicers, so a significant improvement over existing technology.

    Posted by Ben | June 24, 2013, 2:13 pm

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