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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
AkzoNobel Develops Nature-Inspired Additive to Improve Road Safety

AkzoNobel has launched an additive for road salt to help protect against frost damage and improve driving safety.

Inspired by the ability of certain animals to withstand cold and prevent ice forming in their bodies, Ecosel® AsphaltProtection is a fully biodegradable additive for de-icing brine. It works by preventing the water trapped inside the asphalt pores from turning into hard ice. It encourages the formation of slushy ice, which is mechanically weaker than the asphalt and substantially reduces the risk of damage. Slowing the freezing process results in soft, slushy ice, rather than hard, abrasive ice. After in-depth research and development, the product is available to customers in Italy and the Netherlands.

Adding Ecosel®AsphaltProtection to normal winter road salt can reduce frost damage by around 50 percent, AkzoNobel says. Cities and governments can benefit from the reduced need for road repairs, fewer traffic jams, lower maintenance costs and greater road safety. By extending the service life of roads, CO2 emissions will also fall, due to fewer traffic tailbacks, as well as a reduced need for materials and energy for maintenance.

By mimicking nature, AkzoNobel researchers were able to tackle the repeated freeze-thaw cycles that affect asphalt mixtures. Water trapped inside asphalt expands by about 9 percent when it freezes, breaking up the road itself. Passing traffic then further accelerates the damage.

Earlier this month, AkzoNobel announced the discovery of a way to add self-cleaning properties and extend the life of its paints. Pioneered by one of the company’s product developers, Dr. Peter Greenwood, the company added colloidal silica to its paints and found it gave them this unique quality and durability.

In September, AkzoNobel, The Nature Conservancy, Risk Management Solutions and Veolia joined the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities initiative (100RC) to provide critical tools to help cities around the world become more resilient to the shocks and stresses that are a growing part of the 21st century. The announcement was made at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City.

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