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    Compact blending systems are stand-alone units that serve multiple functions, such as blending winter liquids, or loading and unloading truck liquid systems. The pictured system above (external view is below) costs $12,000 versus multipump systems requiring buildings and extensive plumbing systems, which can exceed $30,000. To get started, consult an organization that specializes in onsite blending training and development. Staff can be trained to blend winter liquids in as little as half a day. Photos: Harvey Williams

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    McHenry County, located in northern Illinois, sees its share of snow and ice. In 2005, the county DOT teamed with Concept to Project Management LLC to develop a liquid blending system that blends up to four chemicals, produces brine, and dispenses any one product individually. The result is the custom blending manifold system pictured above.Here's how it works: When blending, chemicals flow to a manifold of valves. They are monitored by a flow meter and controlled by valves as they are pumped to a tank. For instance, 100 gallons/minute of salt brine flows to the tank, which is clearly indicated on the flow meter. A valve is opened and 10 gallons/minute (or 10%) of Geo-melt anti-/de-icer is pumped in at the same time. Five gallons/minute or (5%) of calcium chloride is added. The result is a super mix of 85% salt brine, 10% Geo-melt, and 5% calcium chloride. Operators can adjust the percentage of each chemical in the mixture as desired, and the system agitates the mix every few days.The blended mix provides a single product with the benefits and characteristics of all three liquids that outperforms the individual products.Photo: Harvey Williams