Sweet and salty Montana deicers

Apologies for the post absence, December is a critical exam season and the magazine is also taking up most of my time these days. Hopefully next week will be a little better in terms of posting.


Let me start with the news this week from Rivertop Renewables about their sugar-based corrosion inhibitors that will be used this winter in liquid deicers by the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT). 

According to the press release, MDT has contracted the company for a 110,000 gallons of the bio-based corrosion inhibitors trademarked “Headwaters” to be mixed with MDT’s salt brine deicers to prevent corrosion of bridges and vehicles.

According to MDT (via NBC Montana news), they mix 23% by weight salt water and then 7.5% by volume of inhibitor. The inhibitor is expected to reduce corrosion rate by 70%, according to Rivertop Renewables.

The inhibitors are derived from sodium gluconate, the sodium salt of gluconic acid which is produced by fermentation of glucose – in this case corn sugar.

The blog asked Rivertop Renewables where the inhibitors are being produced and who are manufacturing it. According to Dr. Dave Wilkening, product manager Corrosion Sciences, the Headwaters product is currently toll-produced by Missoula-based Pelican Chemical. Rivertop Renewables is not disclosing the sodium gluconate supplier, however, due to competitive reasons.

I’m trying to remember (back in the old Chemical Market Reporting days) who are the producers of sodium gluconate. ADM, Roquette, Jungbunzlauer and Cargill came to mind.

According to Wilkening, the inhibitors are then transported to various MDT depots around the state for mixing with the deicers and use on roadways.

“Rivertop’s Headwaters inhibitor product is currently price competitive with traditional inhibitors and other biobased inhibitors due to our production and transport process. Like all DOT’s, MDT is required to contract with the lowest bonded bidder whose product meets standard. Rivertop won that bid this year, meeting both criteria.” – Wilkening

The blog has been reporting about Rivertop Renewables for several years now and of course most of it focusing on glucaric acid, where the company announced in April the construction of its 100,000 lb/year semi-works plant in Missoula starting this fall. Rivertop is planning to first apply its glucarate products in the detergents market as alternative to phosphates.

“The company continues to conduct research and development of products derived from glucaric acid to be used in corrosion inhibition markets – in the same road deicers market as the Headwaters product, but also in industrial water treatment, and yet-to-be-disclosed specialty applications.” – Wilkening

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