A NASA-developed, environmentally friendly anti-icing fluid that
can make railroad and commuter travel safer and more reliable during
snowy conditions is now available for commercial applications.

Under license from NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field,
Calif., Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. of Canton, Ohio, has produced
several commercial products that prevent the build-up of ice and snow
on railways, providing a smooth ride for passengers and helping to
eliminate transit system delays and shutdowns due to weather

"This anti-icing fluid, if applied before freezing conditions
are encountered, will prevent ice from forming," explained Dr.
John Zuk of Ames, one of the developers of the technology. "The
fluid also can be applied to an already-frozen surface to melt the
snow and ice."

The environmentally friendly anti-icing fluid originally was
developed by NASA Ames researchers in the 1990s to replace highly
toxic and non-biodegradable anti-icing fluids used in the aerospace
industry. "Current aircraft anti-icing fluids are not
environmentally friendly," Zuk said. "Ames’ development,
however, is an essentially non-toxic, totally biodegradable and
non-corrosive material that improves travel conditions without
polluting the environment."

"This remarkable material derived from the space program can
significantly enhance products for railroad operations," said
Robert Vitale, president of Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. (MIS).
"Now, MIS is ready to offer several products that use NASA’s
fluid technology to free the railways and transit systems of ice and

The fluid can be pressure-sprayed, applied with a brush or poured,
depending on the application. When a small amount of the fluid is
sprayed on the surface to be protected, a very thin fluid film is
formed. If applied before freezing conditions are encountered, the
fluid will prevent rain or dew from freezing on the object and will
melt fallen snow upon contact.

It also can be applied to melt pre-existing snow and ice, and it
prevents refreezing of the object. One of the unique characteristics
of the fluid is its strong resistance to the effects of gravity,
which prevents removal of the protective coat by rain, snow, wind or
gravity-induced run-off. 

"We have all been impressed with the results, and now the
company is looking to expand the application of NASA Ames’ anti-icing
fluid to other industries that face similar problems," said

The NASA Ames environmentally friendly anti-icing fluid may
potentially be used on bridges, streets, runways, ships and boats,
automobiles and even around homes, for sidewalks and roofs.
"Because the fluid is neither an acid nor a base, it will not
corrode steel and reinforced concrete, so roadways and bridges can be
safely treated with the fluid," said Zuk. "Similarly,
vehicles will avoid the body-corrosion typically associated with the
use of road salt," he added.

"NASA’s commercial technology charter is to transfer new
technology developments to industry for commercial use," said
Cathy Pochel, technology commercialization manager in Ames’
Commercial Technology Office. "This project is not only an
outstanding example of this objective, but directly benefits the
public as well."