Denver, CO

DIA considers $38 million update for plane deicing system

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Denver City Council will consider Monday spending $38 million to upgrade Denver International Airport's deicing system. The current system was in place when the airport opened in 1995 and no longer operates efficiently.

According to a staff report, the deicing system is critical to support efficient winter operations and comply with federal regulations. Portions of the system, including the glycol distillation system, have exceeded their life expectancy and now are at risk of catastrophic failure and increased maintenance costs.

Deicing operations insufficient

Glycol is a chemical used to deice aircraft. At DIA, planes are deiced on pads to reclaim the toxic glycol runoff to be recycled to deice more planes. The contract would add more pads.

But the system only works at half its capacity.

The staff report said that the $38 million, 15-year contract with Inland Technologies International would pay for operating and maintaining the system while updating the glycol recycling facility to improve operations, reduce inefficiencies, and meet the airport's sustainability and operations goals.

"The project will localize and strengthen the supply chain, reduce environmental impacts, and may reduce costs for airlines operating at DEN."

Airport recycles deicing chemical

At the glycol recycling facility, stormwater containing less than 1 percent glycol is distilled into 99 percent glycol. The airport recycled a million gallons of glycol during the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

DIA will boast the largest closed-loop glycol recycling operation in North America upon completion. According to the staff report, the process saves the airport almost $2 million annually.

Airport ponds hold up to 78 million gallons of stormwater containing less than 1 percent glycol. This keeps glycol from being released into the environment.

According to the staff report, the city will reimburse Inland Technologies for financing the design-build portion of the project during the 15-year agreement.

If approved Monday, construction of the new deicing system will begin soon.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career at local newspapers. Today, I report on Denver and Aurora city halls for NewsBreak. Prior to joining NewsBreak, I worked several years as a health reporter and branded content writer in the healthcare space. I also worked many years as a news editor and city editor. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver.

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