Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Minimizing chemical pollution from airport de-icing

Date:
October 24, 2011
Source:
The Research Council of Norway
Summary:
In the future, winter temperatures in countries with a typically cold climate may be rising, meaning more frequent conditions near the 0C point. One of the impacts could be a greater need to de-ice airplanes. Norwegian researchers have studied the potential ramifications of increased use of the chemicals involved.

Gardermoen airport is situated above Norway’s largest groundwater deposit. Pollution is monitored far more closely than airports in many other places around the world.
Credit: Kyle Elkin

In the future, winter temperatures in countries with a typically cold climate may be rising, meaning more frequent conditions near the 0C point. One of the impacts could be a greater need to de-ice airplanes. Norwegian researchers have studied the potential ramifications of increased use of the chemicals involved.

A changing climate could mean milder winters, so that many cold countries may be headed for more days with temperatures hovering near the freezing point. More precipitation in the winter months is also a distinct possibility. On top of this, winter temperatures may become even more variable. In short, those near-zero conditions so difficult to deal with could become more common.

De-icing adds to pollution

Airports use chemicals to de-ice airplanes and keep runways free of ice. From a pollution standpoint, what would happen if airports had to use even greater amounts of de-icing chemicals each winter? Using funding from the research programme on Climate Change and Impacts in Norway (NORKLIMA) at the Research Council of Norway, researchers from the division for Soil and Environment at the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research (Bioforsk) have been searching for answers to this question, in collaboration with scientists in the US and the UK.

Helen French, who works at Bioforsk in addition to her position as associate professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), headed the research project Pollution risks and water management at airports and roads in a changing climate, which received funding under the NORKLIMA programme. Her project studied the pollution situation at Oslo Gardermoen Airport in particular.

Highest chemical usage at temperatures near zero

A statistical model for Oslo Gardermoen Airport indicated that more wind, more precipitation and more flights -- combined with low temperatures -- resulted in increased usage of de-icing chemicals on the airplanes.

"At Oslo Gardermoen Airport, temperatures near the freezing point are those that entail the greatest use of chemicals," says Dr French. Although current winter temperatures are typically well below freezing, "if the climate warms, the airport will likely need to increase its use of chemicals."

Groundwater at risk

The airport is situated above Norway's largest groundwater deposit, and there are fears that pollution from the airport could seep into the groundwater. Several factors play a role in this process:

"The amount of chemicals applied is of course an important factor," continues Dr French. "But another key aspect is the volume of water transporting those chemicals down into the ground. This is what determines the seepage rate and the dilution process."

The project's field studies showed that chemicals used at airports can be broken down before reaching the groundwater, depending partly on how deep-lying the groundwater reservoirs are.

The researchers carried out field tests, modelling and statistical analyses of historical data to calculate the extent of pollution stemming from chemical de-icing in the period 1999-2009 based on the airport's current climate.

Soil bacteria to the rescue

"Plants' uptake of water and evaporation throughout the summer helps to keep water up in the soil. The bacteria in the soil can then break down the chemicals," explains Dr French.

It was previously thought that the bulk of airport chemicals washed away with the spring meltwater, which would mean a greater risk of groundwater pollution in frost-heavy years.

But measurements taken of snow along the Oslo runways showed that, fortunately, the chemicals melt out of the snow cover during the winter and infiltrate the soil before the spring thaw. This gives the soil a greater role in the process of breaking down the chemicals.

Among the cleanest

Thanks to the comprehensive research findings and a stronger focus on environmental impacts, pollution at the Oslo airport is now monitored far more closely than airports in many other places around the world.

"Roughly 80 per cent of the chemicals used in de-icing airplanes at Oslo Gardermoen Airport is collected and put to good use at a nearby wastewater treatment facility," concludes Dr French. "Ten per cent gets dispersed along the runways, and ten per cent is carried off on the planes. In this respect, Oslo Gardermoen Airport may be the world's best."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Research Council of Norway. The original article was written by Siw Ellen Jakobsen/Else Lie. Translation: Darren McKellep/Carol B. Eckmann. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Research Council of Norway. "Minimizing chemical pollution from airport de-icing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111019122857.htm>.
The Research Council of Norway. (2011, October 24). Minimizing chemical pollution from airport de-icing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111019122857.htm
The Research Council of Norway. "Minimizing chemical pollution from airport de-icing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111019122857.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Obama Plays Soccer With Japanese Robot

Raw: Obama Plays Soccer With Japanese Robot

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) President Obama briefly played soccer with a robot during his visit to Japan on Thursday. The President has been emphasizing technology along with security concerns during his visit. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Encourages Japanese Student-Scientists

Obama Encourages Japanese Student-Scientists

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) President Obama spoke with student innovators in Japan and urged them to take part in increased opportunities for student exchanges with the US. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Air Force: $4.2B Saved from Grounding A-10s

Air Force: $4.2B Saved from Grounding A-10s

AP (Apr. 23, 2014) Speaking about the future of the United States Air Force, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh says the choice to divest the A-10 fleet was logical and least impactful. (April 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins