• Jan 15, 2010

We Americans sure do like our food. Not only does the land of the Red, White and Blue have one of the higher rates of obesity of any industrialized nations, we feed our roads, too. The Missouri Department of Transportation has been solving its road ice problem with the help of beet juice. The product in question, Geomelt, is a sugar beet-based liquid, and according to the Boonville Daily News, MoDOT has increased its use by 700 percent since it was first introduced in the Show Me State in 2006. That's 242,000 gallons of the nutritious substance used in 2009, or more than 50,000 eight-ounce servings for every staff member at Dunder Mifflin. We're guessing it takes it takes more than 60 acres of beets to make 242,000 gallons of nature's de-icer.

While using food to combat road ice might not be ideal for the environment, it's likely better than the salt most states use. Salt gets into fresh water supplies, which can wreak havoc on groundwater quality. Besides, this is the only good use we can think of for beet juice, and we're thinking our man Dwight wouldn't be able to maintain his prized 1987 Pontiac Trans Am without the extra income.

[Source: Boonville Daily News | Image: NBC]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 20 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Muncie, Indiana is also doing this.

      http://www.thestarpress.com/article/20091229/NEWS01/912290311/Snow-lets-street-department-use-new-techniques

      I hate having to claim being from there...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well the net production of Sugar beets on a per acre basis averages in the mid-twenties as far as tons of raw product per acre. % Sugar varies based on variety and growing conditions. So 60 acres would provide the following rough estimates.

      60 Acres

      25 Tons of Beets per acre

      1500 tons of beets
      ----------------------------

      3,000,000 pounds of raw material

      The sugar beet is roughly 15-20% sucrose (sugar) by weight. Another 5% is organic matter. Leaving 75% of the weight to water So assuming that they don't even process the sugar from the juice:

      3 million * .75 = 2.25 million pounds of unfiltered water.

      Now pure water weighs in at 8.33 lbs. per gallon. Given that the solution is not pure water we can assume a higher weight per gallon. However, let's stick with 8.33 to be conservative.

      so 2.25 million pounds

      Divided by

      8.33 pounds per gallon

      ------------------------------

      270,100 gallons of juice. So, given these conservative estimates, it is theoretically possible for 60 acres to yield the amount of product used by MoDOT this year.

      -Firecat

      P.S. I don't do this crap for fun, I'm a beet farmer's son.



        • 5 Years Ago
        DC - I had the same thought.

        Firecat - way to go with actual content. It sounds to me though like you're just a Toyota/BMW/GM/Ford fanboy though, so I'm going to discount everything you wrote.

        /sarcasm
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh and the US harvests around 1,000,000 acres of Beets per year. So there is probably some room for this market to grow.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't know if I should be impressed or turned on by your post. It's been so long since there's been any intelligent discussion here at AB!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Beet juice is also very good for pickling eggs, mandatory I think.

      Lets see.... pickled eggs, pickled pigs feet, peanuts, Yuengling or maybe Papst and Ballantine beer (actually soda for us kids), Saturday wrestling with Gorgeous George, Haystack, Argentina Rocca or a Philly A's, or NY Dodgers ballgame. And smoke from those black, short, tapered, flat cut, rough rolled cigars the adults called stogies, and the pool table or table quoits when we got bored watching the black and white TV. My Saturdays growing up in a Pa. steel town.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Office
      • 5 Years Ago
      That's great. The next step is to actually use it. In the almost 17 years I've lived in Missouri, I've never seen so little work done to clear the roads as I have these past few weeks. Like JN said, it's supposed to be a good pre-icer, but we wouldn't know that because there weren't any trucks spreading the stuff around. The couple inches of ice on most roads around town were proof of that.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm pretty sure that environmentalists will eventually say that much sugar getting in our waterways will somehow break nature's delicate balance.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just wondering... do farmers receive government subsidies to grow sugar beets?
        • 5 Years Ago
        This article from 2007 says beets are a subsidized crop:

        http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=8381

        The reason I asked was that it doesn't seem to make economic sense to dump beet juice on the road unless it was heavily subsidized by the government (like ethanol is.)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Does this encourage wildlife spending more time in the road? I imagine it's not worth it if there's an increase in the amount of accidents as a result from the wildlife, but presumably they've thought of that already?
      -N
      • 5 Years Ago
      Stupid question - is beet juice acidic in any significant way? that is, is it detrimental to vehicles in any significant way? The biggest reason I like this is because it could hopefully mean a day where one no longer has to worry about the salt caking and rusting his vehicle.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I know that here in Des Moines, Iowa a few years ago the Tones Spices factory had a bad batch of garlic salt and instead of destroying it they gave it? (not sure could have been sold) to the DOT and they spread it on the roads to melt ice. For a few weeks it was interesting commuting to the scent of garlic.
        • 5 Years Ago
        At least your town was vampire proof.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Does the beet juice attract animals to the source? I've heard that salting the roads can bring deer to the roads increasing the chance of animal collisions.
      • 5 Years Ago
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