August 27, 2014 7:59 am

Paving the Prairies – a dual use for canola oil

Watch above: slowing the deterioration of rural roads with canola oil?

VONDA, Sask. – As municipalities and cities face tight budgets and the demand for safer commutes increases, one Saskatchewan man believes he may have a solution to the problem.

From the deep fryer to the road, Prairie Energy Resources collects used canola oil from about 100 restaurants all over the province to treat dusty gravel roads.

The benefit is two-fold, according to company owner Mark Hryniuk.

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“What it does is, it prevents the water from going into the road,” Hryniuk explains, prior to an application on a gravel road near the village of Vonda.

“It repels it off the surface and literally within ten minutes after it rains the road is dry again.”

Hryniuk and his five business partners have been busy applying the deep fryer oil all summer. The company has found used oil to be more effective than new which streams off the road. Used oil is also cheaper.

The spray truck’s large tank keeps the oil at 70 degrees as the product penetrates deeper when it’s warm.

Once the canola oil bakes in the sun, it forms a hard asphalt-like surface – an outcome which piqued the interest of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure.

At a fraction of the cost, Steve Shaheen with the province figured it was worth a trial run. Nine sections were part of the trial.

“One thing we found, especially on higher volume roads, there would be a crust that would develop on the road which over time would break down with traffic flows and then there would be a rough surface for motorists to travel on,” said Shaheen, with the ministry.

Shaheen says the province will continue using magnesium chloride and calcium chloride to control dust on gravel roads instead.

The City of Saskatoon is testing the oil as well. Prairie Energy Resources applied the product on Alberta Avenue on July 16. The surface appears hardened and dust free but Public Works Manager Pat Hyde says the city is still evaluating the results.

“We don’t know the benefits of it as treatment. We don’t know the risks or hazards, we don’t know if there are any byproducts of it that would be undesirable and of course we don’t know the durability of it,” said Hyde.

Several towns and villages are on board.

Vonda paid for a treatment earlier this summer, as well as Rosthern and the R.M. of Corman Park.

The town of Bruno has been a regular annual customer since Prairie Energy Resources began offering the option three years ago.

“At $50 a square meter for pavement, this is only a $1.25,” said Hryniuk, who touts the cost advantage of the product as the biggest selling feature.

Hryniuk recommends those in the industry consider it for back alleys and parking lots as well as gravel roads.

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