Melt Ice on Roadways and Sidewalks Project Thesis

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¶ … Melt Ice on Roadways and Sidewalks

Project design plan.

The recent blizzards that have blanketed the United States in snow and ice are major threats to public safety and can result in injuries and deaths if they are allowed to accumulate on roadways and sidewalks. In response to snow and icy weather, most municipalities in the United States use some combination of road salt and sand in an effort to keep roadways clear, but road salt in particular can cause damage to the roadway as well as to the surrounding environment and species. Given its adverse effects, it is important to determine if road salt and/or sand represents the most cost-effective approach to clearing roadways of snow and ice accumulations.

Relevance of the question. Given the regularity with which snow and ice affect many parts of the country, identifying the most effective approach to melting ice represents a timely and valuable enterprise. Indeed, given the fact that many municipalities across the country are faced with a budget crisis and several hundred tons of road salt and/or sand are routinely used to help keep a major city's roadways and sidewalks clear of ice, determining the most effective approach to melting ice is a vitally important research endeavor.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Thesis on Melt Ice on Roadways and Sidewalks Project Assignment

Literature review. During the winter months, many parts of the United States receive large amount of snow and ice storms that can literally bring even a major city to a standstill, stranding commuters and hampering the efforts of emergency first responders. According to Rhalligan and Smith (2001), "Whenever a snowstorm hits a city or town, it is only a matter of time before the trucks are out clearing the roads and spreading road salt to melt the snow and ice. Unfortunately, all that extra salt can cause damage to soil and lakes" (p. 126). According to a report from Joyce (2008), "The National Research Council reports that Americans dump between 8 million to 12 million tons of salt on our roads per year. Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York report the highest level of salt use, with New York weighing in at 500,000 tons per year" (2007, para 3.. The amounts of road salt used vary from state to state and municipality to municipality, but a gauge of just how must road salt is typically used can be discerned from the requirements of New York State. In this regard, Joyce advises, "The New York State Department of Transportation requires a road-salt application rate of 225 pounds per lane-mile for light snow and 270 pounds per lane-mile for each application during a heavy snow storm" (Joyce, 2007, para. 3). Not only does road salt adversely affect soil and lakes, it can also harm the species that live in an around municipalities that rely on road salt for deicing purposes. For instance, Fields (2005) reports that, "Coastal marshes, which house an estimated 30% of Great Lakes species, are also a frequent victim of development itself as well as the fallout from development: toxic runoff rich in road salt and sediment" (p. 164). Likewise, Orme (2000) emphasizes that, "Road salt from deicing can have toxic or even lethal effects on organisms" (p. 507). In some parts of the country, such as the upper Midwest and New England, ice storms represent a particularly severe threat to public safety. For instance, according to Dziuba (2006), "Ice storms pose more of a threat [in these regions] because warm day-time temperatures on rainy days drop at night" (p. 1).

Although time is of the essence in clearing roadways, based on its potential for damaging roadways, sidewalks and vehicles, the use of road salt is clearly a mixed blessing and there may be some superior yet cost-effective approaches available. An experiment by Killer (2009) used a similar approach to the experimental design described further below to determine the efficacy of road salt in melting ice compared to the other substances used in this experiment; this experiment found that all of the substances tested were more effective at melting ice than no treatment at all. In addition, an experiment by two students at St. Bonaventure's College in Newfoundland employed similar methods and substances in their research design and which determined that calcium chloride was more effective at melting ice but was prohibitively expensive compared to road salt (Ice melters, 2008)

Experimental design. A series of casserole dishes of the same size and shape (approximately 9 x 13 inches, or 22.9 x 33 cm) containing ice was used in this experiment to replicate iced over roadways. A sampling of different materials, including road salt, was used to determine the amount of time required to melt the ice contained in the dishes, with one dish remaining untreated as a control. The procedures used in this experiment design are as follows:

1. Each dish was filled with water to a depth of one inch.

2. Each dish was placed in a freezer until the water was completely frozen.

3. Each dish was removed from the freezer and placed on a nearby table.

4. Twelve ounces each of road salt, calcium chloride, ammonium nitrate, sand and cat litter were spread evenly on dishes of ice, with one dish of ice remaining untouched as the controlled variable (discussed further below)

5. The amount of time required for the ice to melt in each of the dishes was then recorded.

Dependent, independent, and controlled variables. The dependent variable in this experiment was the amount of time required to melt all of the ice contained in each of the dishes; the independent variables were the various substances used to melt the ice (i.e., road salt, calcium chloride, ammonium nitrate fertilizer, sand and cat litter) and the controlled variable was a dish of ice that was not treated in any fashion beyond removing it from the freezer and placing it alongside the dishes of ice to be treated in a room with an ambient temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit. .

Threat reduction to internal validity. According to Neuman (2003), "Internal validity is the ability of experimenters to strengthen a causal explanation's logical rigor by eliminating potential alternative explanations for an association between the treatment and the dependent variable through an experimental design" (p. 537). This means that this experiment's internal validity will relate to whether an various deicing treatments are shown to result in different melting times and whether there is a sufficient degree of similarity between the conditions involved to stipulate that the different treatments were responsible for any observed changes. Therefore, all of the dishes of ice will be removed from the freezer at the same time and maintained in an identical room temperature environment to ensure that there were no confounding variables that could also affect the experiment's outcomes.

Hypothesis. It was the hypothesis of this experiment that road salt, calcium chloride, ammonium nitrate, sand and cat litter would melt the ice in their respective dishes faster compared to the ice contained in the control dish which received no treatment at all.

Rationale in Support of Experimental Design Plan. The experimental design plan used in this research project has been shown by other researchers to be a viable approach to confirming or refuting the above-stated hypothesis. The methods, tools and technologies used in this experiment were deemed highly appropriate for collecting the required quantitative data because they are readily available, inexpensive and standardized, making replication of the experiment possible. In addition, the experiment can be conducted and the results collected within a few hours.

Explanation of the Sequence of Events Used to Collect Quantitative Data. Following the administration of the 12 ounces of each of the road salt, calcium chloride, ammonium nitrate, sand and cat litter used in this experiment as well as the control dish that does not receive any treatment, the amount of time required for all of the ice in the dish to melt in each dish will be recorded.

Description of the Tools, Technologies, and Measurement Units Used to Collect the Quantitative Data. The tools used in this experiment consisted of the above-described six identical casserole dishes that were capable of holding one inch of water; a standard refrigerator freezer; a stopwatch; and 12 ounces each (333 grams) of the above-described substances. The technologies used in this experiment relied on the cooling effects of the freezer and the accuracy of the stopwatch. The measurement units involved were inches (for the amount of water), seconds and/or minutes (for the amount of time required for all of the ice to melt), ounces (used to measure the substances used to melt the ice), and degrees Fahrenheit (to measure the ambient temperature of the room in which the experiment was conducted).

Data Collection Results. The results of the experiment are shown in Table 1 and Figure 1 below.

Table 1

Data Collection Results

Substance

Time Required to Melt All Ice (in minutes)

Calcium Chloride

3.5

Road Salt

4.25

Ammonium Nitrate

5.00

Sand

23

Cat Litter

30

Control

45

Figure 1. Data Collection Results.

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