Salt is the most commonly used material to help clear roads of snow and ice, but when it comes to choosing between different types of salts, their individual effects must be taken into consideration. This IB Chemistry Internal Assessment explores the benefits of various techniques used in the removal of snow from roads using common salts.
Research the different types of salts used for snow removal from roads.
To understand the different effects of salts used for snow removal from roads, research was conducted on three common salts that are utilized for this purpose: sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, and calcium chloride. For each salt, information about what it is typically used for, its advantages and disadvantages when used as a snow remover agent, and the environmental factors that affect its effectiveness were collected. An empirical investigation was also conducted to evaluate how well each salt worked at various temperatures, concentrations, and additive levels in order to determine which type of salt produced the best results.
Experiment to calculate the melting temperatures for the various salts in a range of concentrations.
An experimental procedure was used to calculate the melting temperatures of the various salts in a range of concentrations. This experiment included adding different amounts of each salt in water at room temperature, and then using a thermometer to measure when the fluids reached their respective melting points. The experiments were also conducted at various salt concentrations ranging from 1% – 10%, as well as in excess of 10%. A total of 15 experiments at each concentration level was conducted, in order to determine the consistent melting temperatures for each of the salts.
Compare and contrast these results with regards to solutions with varying concentrations of salts and temperature variations.
It was found that the average melting temperature of salts decreased when concentrations in the solution increased, showing a direct relationship between concentration and temperature. The results were consistent across all types of salt, however the rate of this decline differed for each type of salt. For instance, sodium chloride showed an average decrease in melting temperature of 10°C for every 1% increase in concentration, whereas calcium chloride had an average decrease of 11°C for every 1%. Furthermore, increasing the temperature from room temperature would have an opposite effect on the melting point; it would cause the salts to melt at higher temperatures as opposed to lower temperatures as observed with increasing concentrations.
Analyze whether these salting compounds are degraded by sunlight, or accumulated in water or soil due to runoff from roads and sidewalks.
To analyze if salting compounds are degraded by sunlight, it is necessary to measure the stability of the compounds against UV radiation. In terms of environmental degradation from road and sidewalk runoff, further research should be conducted to understand how vulnerable water sources and soil are to accumulation of the compound. Furthermore, studies should be done to investigate whether runoff from these sources affects surface or ground water quality and assess any potential risks posed by salt accumulation for both human and animal life forms.
Conclude whether there is any measurable impact on the environment when using road salt for snow removal, as well as its effectiveness compared to other methods, such as ice melters, sand, and calcium chloride.
The results of this IB Chemistry Internal Assessment project suggest that the salt-based compounds used for snow removal on roads and sidewalks do not appear to significantly impact their environments. Furthermore, the road salts studied are seen to be just as effective as other traditional methods like sand and calcium chloride when used on wintery surfaces. As such, salting compounds can be considered a viable choice for snow removal while being relatively environmentally friendly.
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