Smart system knows exactly when to spray ice melter |

Smart system knows exactly when to spray ice melter

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. When winter driving conditions call for it, an automated anti-ice system sprays cold-modified magnesium chloride onto a section of Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon to prevent ice from forming.The 19 stainless-steel sprayheads are located in the westbound lane heading out of the Hanging Lake Tunnel. The first is lodged in the wall of the tunnel. They sit a short distance apart and span the side of the highway outwards from the tunnel. This winter, CDOT has noticed the automated de-icers helping, Highway Maintenance Supervisor Steve Quick said. The sprayheads are using a new product which is working better with sensors and computer algorithms.Each sprayhead is about seven inches in diameter. Each has its own control box. The cost for each sprayer with its control box is about $1,700 to $2,100, Quick said. The sprayers and control boxes work with a system of sensors to track weather conditions. Sensors track things like air temperature, surface temperature of the road, humidity and dew point. Another measuring tool called a “frensor” – short for freezing sensor – actually has a small amount of water in it that freezes to determine exactly when moisture on the highway freezes.”When everything hits a certain point, it will activate the sprayer,” Quick said. Each sprayhead releases about a quart of cold-modified mag chloride at a time for a total of about nine gallons. The system can be forced to spray manually if needed.Once the liquid product is sprayed, it relies on vehicles to track the product with their tires. First, around a left curve where the sprayers are, and then down around a right curve. That first right curve, on a downhill stretch west of the tunnel, has been a problem spot in the past, Quick said. The speed limit is posted at 50 mph, but very few people drive the speed limit in the area, he explained. Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611 pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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