• Bio-based Renewable Additives for Anti-icing Applications (Phase I)

      Nazari, Mehdi Honarvar; Havens, Eden Adele; Shi, Xianming; Muthumani, Anburaj (Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, 2016-09-04)
      The performance and impacts of several bio-based anti-icers along with a traditional chloride-based anti-icer (salt brine) were evaluated. A statistical design of experiments (uniform design) was employed for developing anti-icing liquids consisting of cost-competitive chemicals such as bio-based compounds (e.g., sugar beet extract and dandelion extract), rock salt, sodium metasilicate, and sodium formate. The following experimentally obtained parameters were examined as a function of the formulation design: ice-melting capacity and ice penetration at 25°F (−3.9°C) and 15°F (−9.4°C), compressive strength of Portland cement mortar samples after 10 freezethaw/deicer cycles, corrosion rate of C1010 carbon steel after 24-hour immersion, and impact on asphalt binder’s stiffness. One viable formula (“best performer”) was tested for freezing point depression phase diagram (ASTM D1177-88) and the friction coefficient of asphalt pavement treated by this anti-icing formulation (vs. 23 wt.% NaCl) at a certain temperature near 25°F or 30°F after being applied at 30 gallons per lane mile (1 hour after simulated trafficking and plowing). Laboratory data shed light on the selection and formulation of innovative bio-based snow and ice control chemicals that can significantly reduce the costs of winter maintenance operations. This exploratory investigation contributes to more systematic study of optimizing “greener” anti-icers using renewable resources.
    • Bio-Based Renewable Additives for Anti-Icing Applications (Phase II)

      Nazari, Mehdi Honarvar; Oh, Taekil; Ewing, Alexander Charlemagne; Okon, Deborah Ave; Avalos, Brandon; Alnuaimi, Eisa; Havens, Eden Adele; Shi, Xianming (Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, 2019-01-24)
      The performance and impacts of several agro-based anti-icers along with a traditional chloride-based anti-icer (salt brine) were evaluated. A statistical design of experiments (central composite design) was employed for developing anti-icing liquids consisting of cost-competitive chemicals such as agro-based compounds (e.g., Concord grape extract and glycerin), sodium chloride, sodium metasilicate, and sodium formate. The following experimentally obtained parameters were examined as a function of the formulation design: ice-melting capacity at 25°F (−3.9°C), splitting strength of Portland cement mortar samples after 10 freeze-thaw/deicer cycles, corrosion rate of C1010 carbon steel after 24-hour immersion, and impact on asphalt binder stiffness and m-value. One viable formula (“best performer”) was tested for thermal properties by measuring its differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) thermograms, the friction coefficient of asphalt pavement treated by this anti-icing formulation (vs. 23 wt.% NaCl and beet juice blend) at 25°F after being applied at 30 gallons per lane mile (1 hour after simulated trafficking and plowing), and other properties (pH, oxygen demand in COD). Laboratory data shed light on the selection and formulation of innovative agro-based snow- and ice-control chemicals that can significantly reduce the costs of winter maintenance operations.
    • A Bio-Wicking System to Mitigate Capillary Water in Base Course

      Lin, Chuang; Zhang, Xiong (Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, 2016-11)
      Water within pavement layers is the major cause of pavement deteriorations. High water content results in significant reduction in soil’s resilient behavior and increase in permanent deformation. Conventional drainage systems can only drain gravity water but not capillary water. Both preliminary lab and field tests have proven the drainage efficiency of a newly developed H2Ri geotextile with wicking fabrics. This bio-wicking system aims at resolving the potential issues that the original design may encounter: (1) H2Ri ultraviolet degradation, (2) H2Ri mechanical failure, (3) loss of drainage function under high suction, and (4) clogging and salt concentration. Both elemental level and full-scale test results indicated that the bio-wicking system is more effective in draining capillary water within the base courses compared with original design, in which the geotextile is directly exposed to the open air. However, a good drainage condition is required for the bio-wicking system to maintain its drainage efficiency. Accumulation of excess water will result in water re-entering the road embankment. Moreover, grass root and geotextile share the same working mechanism in transporting water. In the proposed bio-wicking system, the relatively smaller channels in the grass roots further ensures water moving from H2Ri geotextile, transporting through the stems of grass, and eventually evapo-transpiring into the air at the leaf-air interfaces. In sum, the bio-wicking system seemed to successfully address the concerns in the preliminary design and is a more efficient system to dehydrate the road embankment under unsaturated conditions.
    • A Bio-Wicking System to Prevent Frost Heave in Alaskan Pavements: Phase II Implementation

      Galinmoghadan, Javad; Zhang, Xiong; Lin, Chang (2019-11)
      Water within pavement layers is the major cause of pavement deterioration. High water content results in significant reduction in soil’s resilient behavior and an increase in permanent deformation. Especially in cold regions, frost heave and thaw weakening cause extensive damage to roads and airfields. Conventional drainage systems can only drain gravity water not capillary water. Both preliminary lab and field tests have proven the drainage efficiency of a newly developed H2Ri geotextile with wicking fabrics. In this report, continuous research was conducted to verify the effectiveness of the wicking fabric in mitigating frost boil issues in Alaskan pavemnets. Two test sections were selected at two low volume roads on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Soil moisture and temperature sensors were installed within the road embankments. The monitored data was used to analyze the soil migrations and evaluate the drainage performance of the wicking fabric. Preliminary monitoring results showed that the wicking fabric was effective in mitigating the frost boil problem.
    • Characterization of Alaskan Hot-Mix Asphalt containing Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement Material

      Liu, Jenny; Zhao, Sheng; Li, Lin (Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, 2016-06)
      In order to properly characterize Alaskan HMA materials containing RAP, this study evaluated properties of 3 asphalt binders typically used in Alaska, PG 52-28, PG 52-40, and PG 58-34, and 11 HMA mixtures containing up to 35% RAP that were either produced in the lab or collected from existing paving projects in Alaska. Various binder and mixture engineering properties were determined, including true high binder grades, complex modulus (|G*|), and phase angle (δ) at high performance temperatures, MSCR recovery rate and compliance, BBR stiffness and m-value, DTT failure stress and strain for binders, and dynamic modulus, flow number, IDT creep stiffness and strength for mixtures. Binder cracking temperatures were determined through Thermal Stress Analysis Routine (TSAR) software along with BBR and DTT data. Mixture cracking temperatures were determined with IDT creep stiffness and strength data. It was found that rutting may not be a concern with Alaskan RAP mix, while low-temperature cracking concerns may still exist in RAP mix in Alaska. A savings of $13.3/ton was estimated for a 25% RAP mix, with consideration of Alaskan situations. Many recommendations for future RAP practice and research are recommended based on testing results and cost analysis.
    • Continued Field Evaluation of Precutting for Maintaining Asphalt Concrete Pavements with Thermal Cracking

      Liu, Jenny; Zhao, Sheng; McHattie, Robert (Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, 2017-08)
      In continuation of a previously completed project entitled Evaluate Presawn Transverse Thermal Cracks for Asphalt Concrete Pavement, this project was a further effort to understand important variables in the thermal cracking process through continued field monitoring of three precutting test sites in Interior Alaska. The test sites included (1) Phillips Field Road, precut in 1984 (≈ west ¼ mile of this road), (2) Richardson Highway precut in 2012 (≈ MP 343–344), and (3) Parks Highway precut in 2014 (≈ MP 245–252). Preliminary results at relatively short periods (up to 4 years) indicate that precutting is an economically promising way to control natural thermal cracks. Even short-term economic benefits appear to range between about 2% and 21%. The degree to which precutting works for an AC pavement appears to be a function of the thickness and general structural robustness of new construction. Shorter precut spacing, along with stronger and/or thicker pavement structures, looks promising with respect to crack control. Continuing evaluation and monitoring of test sections are needed to recommend an effective design methodology and construction practice for Alaska and cold areas of other northern states.
    • Cost-Effective Use of Sustainable Cementitious Materials as Reactive Filter Media (Phase I)

      Li, Wenbing; Shi, Xianming (2019-08-31)
      This report presents a laboratory study on the use of nano SiO2 as modifier in crushed fines recycled concrete (CFRCs), coupled with thermal treatment, with the goal of fabricating a sustainable reactive medium to capture the chloride anions in deicer-laden stormwater runoff. A uniform design (UD) scheme was employed for the statistical design of experiments. Predictive models were developed based on the experimental data to quantify the influence of each design parameter on the effectiveness of removing Cl- ions from simulated stormwater. The models were verified, and then employed for predictions. Finally, the samples of different CFRCs modified by nano SiO2 and heating regimes were prepared under the optimal parameters identified via the Response Surface Methodology (RSM). The optimal processing of CRFCs include the use of admixing nano SiO2 at 0.3% (by mass), then heating the material at 525oC for 3h. The structure and properties of these CFRCs materials were characterized by XRD, FTIR, BET, SEM and EDS. These advanced characterization tools revealed that the modified CFRCs achieved great potential to chemically bind chloride anions. This work is expected to produce substantial benefits for highway agencies and other stakeholders of deicer stormwater runoff, through enhanced understanding of the efficacy and appropriateness of cementitious filter media in passive reactive systems for decreasing contaminant loading in stormwater runoff. The use of CRFCs as a low-cost sorbent will be economically attractive and environmentally sustainable, diverting them from waste stream and landfill and towards sustainable stormwater management.
    • Developing Guidelines for Two-Dimensional Model Review and Acceptance

      Toniolo, Horacio; Homan, Joel (Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, 2018-01-31)
      Two independent modelers ran two hydraulic models, SRH-2D and HEC-RAS 2D. The models were applied to the Lakina River (MP 44 McCarthy Road) and to Quartz Creek (MP 0.7 Quartz Creek Road), which approximately represent straight and bend flow conditions, respectively. We compared the results, including water depth, depth averaged velocity, and bed shear stress, from the two models for both modelers. We found that the extent and density of survey data were insufficient for Quartz Creek. Neither model was calibrated due to the lack of basic field data (i.e., discharge, water surface elevation, and sediment characteristics). Consequently, we were unable to draw any conclusion about the accuracy of the models. Concerning the time step and the equations used (simplified or full) to solve the momentum equation in the HEC-RAS 2D model, we found that the minimum time step allowed by the model must be used if the diffusion wave equation is used in the simulations. A greater time step can be used if the full momentum equation is used in the simulations. We developed a set of guidelines for reviewing model results, and developed and provided a two-day training workshop on the two models for ADOT&PF hydraulic engineers.
    • Development of Landslide Warning System

      Riad, Beshoy; Zhang, Xiong (2019-11)
      Landslides cause approximately 25 to 50 deaths and US$1 - 2 billion worth of damage in the United States annually. They can be triggered by humans or by nature. It has been widely recognized that rainfall is one of the major causes of slope instability and failure. Slope remediation and stabilization efforts can be costly. An early warning system is a suitable alternative and can save human lives. In this project, an early warning system was developed for a 40-foot-high cut slope on the island of Hawaii. To achieve the objective, subsurface investigations were performed and undisturbed samples were collected. For the purpose of unsaturated soil testing, new testing apparatuses were developed by modifying the conventional oedometer and direct shear cells. The unsaturated soil was characterized using two separate approaches and, later, the results were discussed and compared. The slope site was instrumented for the measurement of suction, water content, displacement, and precipitation. The collected climatic data along with the calibrated hydraulic parameters were used to build an infiltration-evapotranspiration numerical model. The model estimations were compared with the field measurements and showed good agreement. The verified model was used to determine the pore-water pressure distribution during and after a 500-years return storm. Later, the pore-water pressure distribution was transferred to a slope stability software and used to study the slope stability during and after the storm. Based on a 2D slope stability analysis, the slope can survive the 500-year storm with a factor of safety of 1.20. Instrument threshold values were established for water content sensors and tensiometers using a traffic-light-based trigger criterion.
    • Development of a Computer Vision-Based Three-Dimensional Reconstruction Method for Volume-Change Measurement of Unsaturated Soils during Triaxial Testing

      Zhang, Xiong; Xia, Xiaolong (2019-10)
      Problems associated with unsaturated soils are ubiquitous in the U.S., where expansive and collapsible soils are some of the most widely distributed and costly geologic hazards. Solving these widespread geohazards requires a fundamental understanding of the constitutive behavior of unsaturated soils. In the past six decades, the suction-controlled triaxial test has been established as a standard approach to characterizing constitutive behavior for unsaturated soils. However, this type of test requires costly test equipment and time-consuming testing processes. To overcome these limitations, a photogrammetry-based method has been developed recently to measure the global and localized volume-changes of unsaturated soils during triaxial test. However, this method relies on software to detect coded targets, which often requires tedious manual correction of incorrectly coded target detection information. To address the limitation of the photogrammetry-based method, this study developed a photogrammetric computer vision-based approach for automatic target recognition and 3D reconstruction for volume-changes measurement of unsaturated soils in triaxial tests. Deep learning method was used to improve the accuracy and efficiency of coded target recognition. A photogrammetric computer vision method and ray tracing technique were then developed and validated to reconstruct the three-dimensional models of soil specimen.
    • Development of durable “green” concrete exposed to deicing chemicals via synergistic use of locally available recycled materials and multi-scale modifiers

      Xie, Ning; Cui, Na (Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, 2018-02)
      From the economic and social perspectives, the use of waste materials would not be attractive until their costs and quality can satisfy the construction requirements. In this study, a pure fly ash paste (PFAP) was developed in place of ordinary Portland cement paste (OPCP). This PFAP was prepared at room temperature and without direct alkali activation. The samples were prepared using only the as-received class C coal fly ash, water, and a very small amount of borax (Na2B4O7). On average, the PFAP featured 28-d compressive strength of about 36 MPa, and micro-nano hardness and elastic modulus 29% and 5%, higher than the OPCP, respectively. These mechanical and other properties of the PFAP make it a viable “green” construction binder suitable for a host of structural and non-structural applications. Advanced characterization of the raw material and PFAP pastes was employed to elucidate the hydration mechanisms of this “green” binder. The obtained knowledge sheds light on the role of class C CFA in the hydration process and may benefit the expanded use of various CFAs in cementitious materials.
    • Durability and Smart Condition Assessment of Ultra-High Performance Concrete in Cold Climates

      Qiao, Pizhong; Zhou, Zhidong; Allena, Srinivas (Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, 2016-12-31)
      The goals of this study were to develop ecological ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) with local materials and supplementary cementitious materials and to evaluate the long-term performance of UHPC in cold climates using effective mechanical test methods, such as “smart aggregate” technology and microstructure imaging analysis. The optimal UHPC mixture approximately exhibited compressive strength of 15 ksi, elastic modulus of 5,000 ksi, direct tensile strength of 1.27 ksi, and shrinkage of 630  at 28 days, which are characteristics comparable to those of commercial products and other studies. The tensile strength and modulus of elasticity in tension, dynamic modulus, and wave modulus show slight increases from the original values after 300 freeze-thaw (F-T) cycles, indicating that UHPC has excellent frost resistance in cold climates. Although porosity deterioration was observed in the F-T cyclic conditioning process, no internal damage (cracks or fractures) was found during imaging analysis up to 300 cycles. Since structures for which UHPC would be used are expected to have a longer service life, more F-T cycles are recommended to condition UHPC and investigate its mechanical performance over time. Moreover, continuum damage mechanic-based models have the potential to evaluate damage accumulation in UHPC and its failure mechanism under frost attack and to predict long-term material deterioration and service life.
    • An Empirical Model for Optimal Highway Durability in Cold Regions

      Yan, Jia (Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, 2016-03-10)
      We develop an empirical tool to estimate optimal highway durability in cold regions. To test the model, we assemble a data set containing all highway construction and maintenance projects in Arizona and Washington State from 1990 to 2014. The data set includes information on location, time, type (resurfacing, construction, or lane widening), pavement material and thickness, and total expenditure for these projects. Using the data, we first estimate how highway maintenance costs and highway duration depend on pavement thickness and traffic loading. We then calibrate the effects of different deicers on highway durability and thus on highway maintenance costs. Finally, we demonstrate how the estimated and calibrated model can be used by planners to make optimal decisions for highway pavement and winter operations in cold regions.
    • Environmentally Friendly Pervious Concrete for Treating Deicer-Laden Stormwater: Phase I

      Xu, Gang; Shi, Xianming (Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, 2015-12-30)
      A graphene oxide-modified pervious concrete was developed by using low-reactivity, high-calcium fly ash as sole binder and chemical activators and other admixtures. The density, void ratio, mechanical strength, infiltration rate, Young’s modulus, freeze-deicer salt scaling, and degradation resistance of this pervious concrete were measured against three control groups. The test results indicate that graphene oxide modified fly ash pervious concrete is comparable to Portland cement pervious concrete. While the addition of 0.03% graphene oxide (by weight of fly ash) noticeably increased the compressive strength, split tensile strength, Young’s modulus, freeze-deicer salt scaling, and degradation resistance of fly ash pervious concrete, it reduced the void ratio and infiltration rate. The fly ash pervious concrete also showed unfavorable high initial loss during the freeze-deicer salt scaling test, which may be attributed to the low hydration degree of fly ash at early age. It is recommended that durability tests for fly ash concrete be performed at a later age.
    • Environmentally Friendly Pervious Concrete for Treating Deicer-Laden Stormwater: Phase II

      Xu, Gang; Shi, Xianming (2018-12)
      In Phase I of this project, graphene oxide (GO)-modified pervious concrete was developed using coal fly ash as the sole binder. The primary objectives of Phase II of this project were (1) to evaluate the stormwater infiltration capacity of GO-modified fly ash pervious concrete; (2) to evaluate the durability performance of GO-modified fly ash pervious concrete using freeze/thaw and salt resistance testing methods; and (3) to use advanced analytical tools to fully characterize the GO-modified fly ash binder. Test results indicate different degrees of reduction in concentrations of possible pollutants in stormwater—copper, zinc, sulphate, chloride, ammonia, nitrate, and total phosphate. The incorporation of GO significantly improved the resistance of pervious concrete to freeze/thaw cycles and ambient-temperature salt attack. The specimens were examined using X-ray diffraction, which revealed that the mineralogy and the chemical composition of fly ash pastes differ considerably from those of cement pastes. Nuclear magnetic resonance was used to study the chemical structure and ordering of different hydrates, and provided enhanced understanding of the freeze/thaw and salt scaling resistance of fly ash pervious concrete and the role of GO.
    • Estimating the Application Rate of Liquid Chloride Products Based on Residual Salt Concentration on Pavement

      Fay, Laura; Akin, Michelle; Muthumani, Anburaj (Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, 2018-03-21)
      This technical report summarizes the results of laboratory testing on asphalt and concrete pavement. A known quantity of salt brine was applied as an anti-icer, followed by snow application, traffic simulation, and mechanical snow removal via simulated plowing. Using a sample from this plowed snow, researchers measured the chloride concentration to determine the amount of salt brine (as chloride) that remained on the pavement surface. Under the investigated scenarios, the asphalt samples showed higher concentrations of chloride in the plowed-off snow, and therefore lower concentrations of chlorides remaining on the pavement surface. In comparison, the concrete samples had much lower chloride concentrations in the plowed-off snow, and much higher chloride concentrations remaining on the pavement surface. An interesting pattern revealed by the testing was the variation in the percentage of residual chloride on the pavement surface with changes in temperature. When pavement type was not considered, more residual chloride was present at warmer temperatures and less residual chloride was present at colder temperatures. This observation warrants additional testing to determine if the pattern is in fact a statistically valid trend. The findings from the study will help winter maintenance agencies reduce salt usage while meeting the defined Level of Service. In addition, findings will contribute to environmentally sustainable policies and reduce the level of salt usage (from snow- and ice-control products) introduced into the environment.
    • Evaluating Management Options to Increase Roadside Carbon Sequestration

      Ament, Robert; Hartshorn, Tony; Powell, Scott (2019-01-30)
      We estimated the amount of carbon sequestered along Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) roads and tested 3 different highway right-of-way (ROW) management techniques to increase carbon stocks. Using Geographic Information System techniques, the total ROW acreage owned by MDT was found to sequester 75,292 metric tons of carbon per year and to consist mostly of grasslands (70%). From 2016-2018 we tested 3 ROW management techniques to increase carbon stocks- increase mowing height, plant woody shrubs, or add legumes to reclamation seed mixes of disturbed soils - at 3 sites (Three Forks [3F], Bear Canyon [BC], and Bozeman Pass [BP]) along Interstate 90 in southwestern Montana. Soil samples generally averaged 0.75–1.5% soil organic carbon (SOC) at the 3F site, 2.5–4% SOC at the BC site, and 1.5–2.5% SOC at the BP site. Average SOC levels were always lower in 2018 than in 2016. Soil respiration rates were generally highest in June or July at the BC site, averaging ~4 μmol CO2 m-2 second-1. Soil respiration rates were lower at the BC site in November 2016, at the BP site in June 2018, and at the 3F site in July 2018 (all ~2–3 μmol CO2 m-2 s-1). Aboveground biomass carbon estimates generally mirrored belowground SOC estimates. Taken together, our findings suggest that of the three treatments implemented (raised mowing height, shrub planting, and disturbance), minimizing disturbance to soils likely makes the greatest contribution to the medium- and long-term carbon-storage potential of these roadside soils.
    • Evaluating the Potential Effects of Deicing Salts on Roadside Carbon Sequestration

      Fay, Laura; Ament, Rob; Hartshorn, Tony; Powell, Scott (2019-01)
      This project sought to document patterns of road deicing salts and the effects of these salts on the amount of carbon being sequestered passively along Montana Department of Transportation roads; it was designed collaboratively with a related roadside project that tested three different highway right-of-way management techniques (mowing height, shrub planting, disturbance) to determine whether they have the capacity to increase soil organic carbon. Our sampling did not reveal elevated salt levels at any of the nine locations sampled at each of the three I-90 sites. The greatest saline concentrations were found at the sample locations farthest from the road. This pattern was consistent across all three sites. The range of soil organic matter (SOM) was broad, from ~1% to >10%. Generally, SOM values were lowest adjacent to the road and highest farthest from the road. We found no or weak evidence of a relationship between our indices of soil salinity and SOM levels, with electrical conductivity, exchangeable calcium, and cation exchange capacity. Results imply that if road deicing salts are altering patterns of roadside SOM and potential carbon sequestration, this effect was not captured by our experimental design, nor did deicing salts appear to have affected roadside vegetation during our most recent sampling effort. Our findings highlight the value of experimentally separating the multiple potentially confounding effects of winter maintenance operations on roadside soils: roads could focus the flow of water, salts, and sands to roadside soils. How these types of mass inputs to roadside soils might influence medium- or long-term carbon dynamics remains an open question, but their fuller characterization and possible flow paths will be essential to clarifying the role of roadside soils in terrestrial soil organic carbon sequestration strategies.
    • Evaluation of Deicer Impacts on Pervious Concrete Specimens (Phase II)

      Haselbach, Liv; Temizel-Sekeryan, Sila; Ross, Molly; Almeida, Nara (Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, 2018-05-31)
      This research examined the chemical degradation of pervious concrete due to calcium chloride or magnesium chloride deicers. The project consisted of Phase I, Phase IIa, and Phase IIb. Phase I was previous work where a testing protocol was developed to mimic deicer applications. Phases IIa and IIb are parts of this project. Phase IIa used split tensile testing on Phase I specimens and further evaluated the chemical data from Phase I magnesium chloride applications. Phase IIb repeated the Phase I protocol for a larger number of new ordinary Portland cement specimens and evaluated the impact on strength using the unconfined compressive strength test. The hypotheses were based on complexation and precipitation chemistry. Specimens subjected to calcium chloride showed visible degradation. Specimens exposed to magnesium chloride deicer showed a large increase in loss of calcium ions in Phase I. Both deicers showed a loss in strength compared with a water control in Phase IIb. Results from the split tensile testing were inconclusive. The protocol from Phase I with the unconfined compression test may be an effective testing procedure to determine if different designs might be more resistant to chemical degradation by these two deicing chemicals.
    • Evaluation of Effectiveness and Cost-Benefits of Woolen Roadside Reclamation Products

      Ament, Rob; Cuelho, Eli; Pokorny, Monica; Jennings, Stuart (Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, 2017-12)
      This research project developed three types of products for study: woolen erosion control blankets (ECBs), wool incorporated into wood fiber compost at a 40:1 ratio (compost to wool, by weight), and wool incorporated into silt fence. The project, supported by Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and the Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, compared the wool products’ performance to roadside reclamation products commonly used for revegetating cut slopes: straw/coconut (coir) ECB, wood fiber compost and woven plastic silt fence. Three versions of wool silt fence were developed by the project, yet, even more versions are needed to arrive at a commercially viable product. Wool silt fence was the least promising of the three types of reclamation materials. The primary measure for success for ECBs and wool additive to the compost was the amount of seeded or desired vegetation they established after two growing seasons. The research team evaluated the performance of the woolen and standard products by measuring the percentage of canopy cover of each plant species present in each treatment plot. Canopy cover measures the percentage of ground that is covered by a vertical projection of a plant’s foliage. To conduct the comparative analysis, researchers calculated an average percent canopy cover for each functional group: seeded native grasses, desired non-seeded (volunteer) grasses and forbs, and weeds. There was no statistical difference in the mean canopy cover of seeded grass species of the compost treatment (control) compared to the cut wool with compost treatment, 6.4% and 10.2%, respectively. Thus, the project could not determine that cut wool pieces provided a benefit to plant establishment and growth when it is added to compost material. Further experimentation to determine the ideal ratio of wool pieces to add to compost is warranted. The two best performing treatments (i.e. greatest seeded grass establishment) were the rolled wool/straw ECBs. The 100% wool ECB and 50% wool/50% straw ECB had the greatest mean seeded grass canopy cover after two years. Both of these wool ECBs had more seeded grass canopy cover than the standard 70% straw/30% coir ECB demonstrating their potential as a commercially viable product for roadside revegetation applications. Laboratory tests of the wool/straw ECB demonstrated it was comparable to the specifications of a short-term (Type II B or C) standard ECB used along MDT roadways. Future product development of the wool/straw ECB should focus on improving the shear strength at high flows so it meets all required Type III specifications.