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Transportation

Wisconsin Begins Using Cheese To De-Ice Roads 139

Posted by timothy
from the venezuelan-beaver-cheese dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The NYT reports that Milwaukee has begun a pilot program to use cheese brine to keep city roads from freezing, mixing the dairy waste with traditional rock salt as a way to trim costs and ease pollution. 'You want to use provolone or mozzarella,' says Jeffrey A. Tews, the fleet operations manager for the public works department, which has spread the cheesy substance in Bay View, a neighborhood on Milwaukee's south side. 'Those have the best salt content. You have to do practically nothing to it.' Local governments across the country have been experimenting with cheaper and environmentally friendly ways of thawing icy thoroughfares, trying everything from sugar beet juice to discarded brewery grain in an attempt to limit the use of road salt, which can spread too thin, wash away and pollute waterways. 'If you put dry salt on a roadway, you typically lose 30 percent to bounce and traffic,' says Emil Norby, who works for Polk County and was the first in Wisconsin to come up with the cheese brine idea to help the salt stick. In a state where lawmakers once honored the bacterium in Monterey Jack as the state's official microbe, residents of Bay View say they have noticed little difference, good or bad, in the smell of their streets, and city officials say they have received no complaints. The mayor of Bay View says it's an experiment, but one that makes sense. The brine will come from the Dresser Farm in Polk County, where it is already being used on the roads. The only cost will be for transportation and distribution. 'We thought, 'Well, let's give it a shot.' The investment in this project is $1,474.'"
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Wisconsin Begins Using Cheese To De-Ice Roads

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  • by c (8461)

    I have a feeling the roadkill rate might go up a bit, and I'd hate to think about trying to walk my dogs on a sidewalk or street coated with processed dairy...

    • by ElementOfDestruction (2024308) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @08:31AM (#45804791)
      Are your dogs lactose intolerant? Hipster freaking dogs with their allergy-of-the-month syndromes...
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, just like 70% of adult humans and all the other adult mammals on planet earth.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          [Citation needed]

          70% would mean that 7 out of every 10 people I know would be lactose intolerant. However, that ratio for me is more like 1 in every 100.

          So either I'm an extreme statistical outlier or you're spouting bullshit. Guess which one I'm betting it is?

          • 90% of the people you know are probably White. If you based world population trends on the area where you live you probably think most people in the world are White, followed by Blacks. Reality is most of the world population is Asian.

            This is why so many U.S. science and medical studies fall under the W.E.I.R.D problem

            http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/05/weird_psychology_social_science_researchers_rely_too_much_on_western_college.html [slate.com]

          • by osu-neko (2604)

            [Citation needed]

            "Most mammals normally cease to produce lactase, becoming lactose intolerant, after weaning,[4] but some human populations have developed lactase persistence, in which lactase production continues into adulthood. It is estimated that 75% of adults worldwide show some decrease in lactase activity during adulthood.[5] The frequency of decreased lactase activity ranges from 5% in northern Europe through 71% for Sicily to more than 90% in some African and Asian countries.[6]"

            70% would mean that 7 out of every 10 people I know would be lactose intolerant. However, that ratio for me is more like 1 in every 100.

            So either I'm an extreme statistical outlier or you're spouting bullshit. Guess which one I'm betting it is?

            Do not try to generalize from person

        • Here I am with mod points, but there doesn't seem to be a -1 Dumbass option in the dropdown.

      • by c (8461)

        They're probably as lactose intolerant as the rest of the canine population. But the real problem is that they're more than a little bit food driven, and one's a hound.

      • by reub2000 (705806)

        Cheese doesn't contain lactose

  • After all, they say "do what you know"...
  • Won't this make the road even more slippery?
    • Headline sucks (Score:5, Informative)

      by dbIII (701233) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @08:38AM (#45804827)
      The content says brine, the salty water left over from cheesemaking.
      • by Mashiki (184564)

        In otherwords, they're using what we've been spraying on roads in Canada for the last 5 years...and what we make in the depot yards from the "powdery leftover salt." Of course we add in a chemical deicer as well, since it quite often gets below -10C here in the winter, and straight salt stops working properly at -9C. And then there's other places here in Canada where we use gravel or sand, and only that because even chemical deicers don't work when it gets that cold.

        • by locopuyo (1433631)
          -10C is nothing, it often gets -10F there.
          • by Mashiki (184564)

            -10C is nothing, it often gets -10F there.

            That's nice, it gets -20F here. And I've seen it as low as -35F in southern ontario(which is farther south), as a useful point the effectiveness of salt diminishes the closer you get to -10C, at -10C it stops being effective totally and you need to mix in other things to keep it working. Or switch to a chemical deicer but those are usually only good to -20C or so, some of the more expensive ones will work to -30C or so.

            And being that I just came back from a part of the country where it hit -39F ... in mid

  • by csumpi (2258986) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @08:40AM (#45804833)
    timothy, if that's the same to you, have some with crackers.
  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @08:49AM (#45804863)
    As a professional cheesemaker, (yes, one of the blessed variety), the first question that comes to my mind is:

    Why are these people throwing out their brine? This seems an unnecessarily costly exercise.

    It is typical practice in many cheese factories (and all of those in which I've worked) to keep and re-use brine (sometimes for decades), with routine and simple maintenance such as topping up salt levels, adjustment of pH, filtration to remove solids and occasional pasteurisation if required.

    A "raw" brine of just NaCl and water will, of course, do the job of salting your cheese, but most of the salt is left in solution at the end of the brining process (so it doesn't make sense to throw it away), and the pH will have a tendency to bounce around, adversely affecting the properties of your cheese. The various whey products in a re-used brine help to stabilise the pH, so one usually only needs to top up salt to replace that absorbed by the cheese.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, obviously it's not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products

    • by mjwx (966435)

      It is typical practice in many cheese factories (and all of those in which I've worked) to keep and re-use brine (sometimes for decades), with routine and simple maintenance such as topping up salt levels, adjustment of pH, filtration to remove solids and occasional pasteurisation if required.

      Realistically, seeing as the engineering problem is the loss from dropping salt in it's solid form wouldn't any kind of brine or saline solution do as long as it didn't freeze. It doesn't necessarily have to be from cheese. Not that this matters to me where I live, it was 32 Degrees Celsius here in Perth, Australia today. Just curious, would brine reuse be done at factories that mass produce the yellow plastic masquerading as cheese at the supermarket? I'm not a cheesemaker but have a bit of experience wit

  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @08:49AM (#45804867) Homepage

    I could imagine this smelling pretty horrible, particularly come summer.

    • Re:Smell? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @09:15AM (#45805003)
      Well, yes, it would probably smell pretty bad if they were to spread this on the roads in the summertime. However, as an Anonymous Coward pointed out, they don't have much of a problem with ice on the roads in the summer in Milwaukee. In addition, it is unlikely that the brine they spread on the roads during the winter will still be there by the time the weather gets warm enough to cause a smell problem.
      • If you spread this stuff in the billions of gallons all over the state, I do no care when you do it, the entire state is going to smell.

        • As the Anonymous Coward pointed out, it is unlikely that they will spread this in anywhere near that scale. Pennsylvania, for example, uses somewhere on the order of 200,000 gallons of brine in a winter. Wisconsin is a larger state than Pennsylvania and I believe they experience more snow than Pennsylvania, on the other hand, Pennsylvania has more miles of road than Wisconsin. Altogether, I would be surprised if Wisconsin used 500,000 gallons, even if they expand this program to the entire state.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's actually a waste product that is mostly salt water.. but thanks for the usual Slashdot quality journalism.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      don't blame slashdot editors for this one.. the article at the new york fucking times uses "cheese" (only, not paired with 'brine') in its own headline.

  • Typo in headline (Score:5, Informative)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Saturday December 28, 2013 @09:15AM (#45804999) Homepage Journal
    They are using cheese brine, not the cheese itself. The brine has salt in it but is mostly not cheese.
  • Cats (Score:5, Funny)

    by symes (835608) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @09:23AM (#45805035) Journal

    They are going to have a problem with mice on the roads. What will the spray to deal with the mice? Fish. The fish will attract cats who will eat the mice. But then there will be a cat problem, so they will have to spray ... anyway, I am sure that the old woman who swallowed a fly is consulting. So all is well.

    • by dkf (304284)

      They are going to have a problem with mice on the roads. What will the spray to deal with the mice? Fish. The fish will attract cats who will eat the mice. But then there will be a cat problem, so they will have to spray ...

      You obviously don't know cats; they like cheese too. Or at least our cats do. That means you can save on the fish spray...

    • Re:Cats (Score:4, Funny)

      by Megane (129182) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @11:25AM (#45805671) Homepage
      And when winter comes, the gorillas will simply freeze to death.
  • I bet there's plenty of leftover dry-noodle-dust somewhere that could be thrown into the mix.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 28, 2013 @09:37AM (#45805121)

    Although I suppose it curd work.

  • Bay View is not a city! It's a neighborhood of Milwaukee! Summary starts by saying this but then just descends into ignorance by talking about the mayor of Bay View. There is no mayor of a neighborhood!

    Also I am a native Milwaukee resident and I support this. Cheese that shit up, bitch. As long as it doesn't damage anything or stink or leave a nasty residue.

  • by Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @11:11AM (#45805603)
    CHEESE FOR EVERYONE!!!!
  • I've encountered the use of what I was told was a whey solution being sprayed on roads to keep down the dust in summer. As I recall that did smell a bit.

  • I suppose cheese brine uses consumergrade salt while a mixture of rock salt and brine has been known as de-icing method for quite a while now.
  • cheese shortages at local cheese shops leads to widespread cat famine.

  • Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) works great. We've been using CMA for three years on our farm. It is non-toxic, doesn't damage concrete, doesn't corrode steel, won't hurt plants, aquatic life or pigs (what we raise on pasture) so it is pretty ideal.

    The down side is that CMA is more expensive than road salt. I feel the extra cost is worth it to protect the environment, our livestock, our buildings and our vehicles.

    See these articles
    http://www.google.com/search?q=site:sugarmtnfarm.com+cma [google.com]

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      That was my first thought. All they're doing is just finding another source of NaCl. They shouldn't be trying to spend less on salting roads - they should be spending more as the current strategy is penny wise and pound foolish.

      Many have argued that switching to organic salts would cost a bit more in the salt budget, but would easily pay for itself many times over in reduced road maintenance and increased car longevity.

      We'll never see it happen though - society is WAY too short-sighted for that.

  • "'You want to use provolone or mozzarella"

    "Just remember: use pro-vo-lone-ay on the stone-ay."

  • The roads are in such a bad condition, it's almost as if there are snow threads in the asphalt itself...

  • Dumping the cheese cultures all over town, with the mold-inducing bacteria, what could possibly go wrong?!
  • Henk-Jan maak de kooien klaar, we hebben nieuwe klanten! ;)

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