The Man Behind Ask Dr. Scott
Meet Dr. Scott Koefod, Cargill Road Safety's Principal Scientist and the man behind the Ask Dr. Scott.
Hi. My name is Scott. I am Principal Scientist for the Cargill Salt Road Safety group, and welcome to our humble corner of the web. My editors tell me I need to keep these blog posts brief. They seem to think I might more bore you if they don’t rein me in a bit. The nerve, right? But, being as they have known me for a long time and have seen me go on and on (and on) about the fascinating science of deicing as their lunch hour approaches, stomachs grumbling for food and minds grumbling, “when will he make an end already,” maybe there is a drop of justification for their concern. So let me cut to the chase. In my first blog post I would like to introduce myself and let you know what we are going to do here. Think of this as sort of an invitation to a party where I fill you in on what to expect and hopefully convince you to join me here from time to time. I am afraid I can’t serve beer, which I know probably makes the party seem a lot less appealing, but I will do my best to entertain you while we are waiting for the beer enabled Web 4.0 to be developed.
So what are we going to do here? I am going to give you my particular take on matters relating to deicing technology. My take should not be the only take you listen to. There are numerous useful resources available that I will point you towards from time to time. There are many scientists and engineers who continue to research ways to improve winter maintenance practices, whose work I will point you towards. And, most of all, you will want to listen to the voices of your fellow snow warriors, those of you who are out fighting the battle against winter storms in the real world to keep our roads safe. At the end of your day, the things you learn from your practical field experience are the most important of all. That is where you are the experts – knowing what works and what does not under real world conditions - and that is where I continue to learn from you.
However, while practical field experience is essential for the best winter maintenance practices, it is not sufficient. There is a limit to what we can learn in the field. A real world snow storm is a very difficult laboratory to work in! During an actual storm, the main focus of your attention is on the immediate need to plow and treat that road, often under difficult conditions, leaving little time for careful observations. Also, conditions in the field vary enormously from storm to storm and even within a given storm. There are numerous variables that affect how well a deicing practice works – temperature, wind speed, traffic action, snow type, precipitation rate, and pavement type - just to name a few. It is difficult enough to determine how well a deicing practice works under one set of constant conditions, let alone when the conditions are constantly being pulled out from under our feet. In a nutshell, deicing in the real world is complicated – there is a lot of stuff going on. Because of this, I suggest that the best winter maintenance practices are supported by two pillars. The main pillar is practical field experience, but that is supported by a second pillar which is having a good understanding of the fundamental performance characteristics of the chemicals and practices we use. And this is the vantage point I will be taking in this blog.
For the last 26 years I have been working in the laboratory, where I have the luxury of being able to control test conditions and make careful measurements over and over again, working towards a better understanding of deicing performance at a basic (but hopefully still practical) level. I have spent much of my career exploring the science of deicing technology and, in particular, the chemistry of deicing technology. Don’t worry. There will be no chemical formulas, no complex calculations, and no quizzes. My goal in these blog posts will be to discuss deicing technology topics specifically from the viewpoint of a scientist who has been studying it for over 25 years but to translate that fundamental science in a down to earth way that I hope you can easily connect with and which will help you to better understand and optimize your own deicing practices. I won’t have all the answers, but I will do my best to lay out what we know and what we don’t know.
Welcome to the party.
Do you have a question about your current deicing program? Perhaps you are considering anti-icing and would like more background on which chemicals to use in addition to brine. Let Cargill Road Safety's Principal Scientist help you out by keeping you informed and educated of the latest research and developments in the world of deicing.