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A group of scientists from the University of Denver is developing alternatives to the harmful road salts that are used to lower the freezing point of water, causing disruptive snow to thaw from our roads in snowy months, as per a report on the World Economic Forum.

Road salts are typically a less-refined form of table salt, or sodium chloride, that can also include other compounds, such as magnesium chloride and potassium chloride.

The problem with these types of salts is that, despite the fact that nearly 20 million tons are used on U.S. roads per year, they cause extensive damage to vehicles, road infrastructure, and the environment.

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For example, a 2010 study estimated that the use of de-icing salts costs U.S. drivers US$23.4 billion dollars annually in vehicle damage due to corrosion.