The Thin Line between Ingenuity and Ridiculousness—between a Brainstorm and a Brainfart

ACADEME BLOG

On the ingenious end of the scale, the state of Wisconsin has begun spraying cheese brine onto its roadways to keep them ice-free during the long winter months. Cheese brine is essentially salty water used during and then leftover from the cheese-making process. If it is not recycled into some non-cheese-related use, it goes into the waste-water treatment plants.

As reported in the New York Times, Emil Norby, who works for Polk County, Wisconsin, has explained, “’If you put dry salt on a roadway, you typically lose 30 percent to bounce and traffic.” But by mixing the salt with the brine, the rural county saved $40,000 on its rock salt bill in 2009 (the year it started the  experiment) and has increased that amount every year since.’” And those savings don’t even include the reduced need for treatment of the wastewater.

In the middle of the scale—that is, I…

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