Observations from the Worksite: The Rise of DGCool™, the Industry’s First Cold Climate Polymer Solution

Conversation with D&T Landscaping & Irrigation President Dave Olson

D&T Landscaping & Irrigation have been serving their community in Minnesota since 1980.  That’s 40 years of service with a continued value proposition to improve and foster top tiered solutions for all their customers’ unique needs.

One such customer/vertical they’ve long served exists in the mining industry. A reoccurring challenge D&T has been faced with is in utilizing a dust suppressant solution that keeps potential environmentally harmful fugitive dust particles onsite rather than floating around in the air. The challenge is further heightened by the fact that the different experiences Minnesota is faced with from naturally occurring seasonal shifts had compromised past remedial attempts. D&T utilized an assortment of polymer based products as a potential solution (as opposed to their typical mode of attack – hay) from several different companies over the years. Finally, three years ago they came in to contact with Global Environmental Solutions who have worked closely with D&T owner/president, Dave Olson, to create an exact solution to their working problem(s). This relationship led to GES developing their latest product offering, DGCool™.

Keep reading to learn more about the challenge, the approach, the solution, and the overall experience with GES and DGCool™:

How’d you learn about Global Environmental Solutions and their DirtGlue® line of products?

Dave Olson: Well, what we do is we provide dust suppression services for the steel and tackamine mines over here in Minnesota. We’ve historically used hay to suppress the dust permeating from the mines. The Challenge with that is these conditions. These tailings basins that we work in are wet. Getting a piece of equipment down there is extremely challenging so we started exploring using polymers as a potential way to hold the dust down until we could get other equipment out there to cover it up.

We tried probably six different products to accomplish this from five different companies and GES or DirtGlue® was the only company that was willing to reformulate their product to best serve our unique conditions. Up to that point we had no products, no polymer based products that were holding the dust down on our tailings basin.

DGCool™ came out of that effort to kind of redesign the product to hold in colder temperatures. When we’re transitioning from fall into winter and then again from winter to spring, we go through a frost / freeze process where the tailings freeze generally at night, warm up, moisture draws out and then we’re kind of okay for the day. But once it starts to freeze, it’s a really fine product, the moisture evaporates and any wind that picks up from below wipes it out. That’s an issue because in these mines, the dust is considered fugitive dust, which is not ideal. Obviously, our goal is to keep that dust in place.

How long have you been working with GES?

Olson: We had tried a bunch of polymers from a number of companies because by-and-large the marketing shtick is everyone claims to have the solution you/we need. When we solicited the help of GES three years ago we started by using two of their products, DirtGlue® and DustLess®. A lot of polymers act similarly, but there are certain elements to each that are proprietary, which is why we tried two different products and the products of other vendors. We wanted to see what would work best for our challenges.

Two years ago we tried a large 100-acre deployment of GES’s DirtGlue® product and it did not withstand the frost / freeze process. It would freeze and peel off and didn’t solve the problem. So I went back to Chris (Rider) and explained what was happening – what we were hoping for – and that’s when he started reformulating the recipe based off of tailings samples we sent at his request. This was the beginning of what would become their DGCool™ solution.

How did GES work with you to outfit you with the best possible solution for your unique challenge? What can you say about the working relationship between all involved?

Olson: What I like about Chris and GES is he’s continually taking a proactive approach and even still asks for tailings samples so the company can work to improve upon what we’ve put to action. They don’t simply rest on what they’ve delivered and move on – they stay actively engaged and strive to maintain advanced improvement.

They were the only company that came back and asked how it went. “How did it go? What were your application rates?” Of all the other companies, they’re the only one that called back. We’re not in this for a one-time sale, we’re looking to solve a problem, so that gets me enthused about the working relationship…

You worked with GES to help facilitate a working test example of the effectiveness of their new DGCool™ product. Tell us about the application. What can you say about the product? How did it help you accomplish what you were looking to achieve?

Olson: It held until we got snow, which is good. Once we get snow there is no dust problem until spring (for obvious reasons). So we’ll know exactly what we’re dealing with when the snow melts and water starts to runoff as it does in spring. If the product is still there, we’ve done it.

We have the product at two sites, a 100-acre site and a 5-acre one. They both held until we got the snow on the ground, which is encouraging. It’s definitely much better than what it was. Prior to this year we tried a different deployment method which was application via helicopter. The first year we used a bucket with large spray nozzles. The helicopter company came up with a different solution – it wasn’t a spray nozzle but more of a rotating spin, gravity feed out, which was a much better solution. So the combination of the product and the delivery method is how we’ve gotten to where we are this year.

Would you recommend GES and their products to people in your industry?

Olson: Yes and no (laughs). Yes because they offer exemplary service and work with the customer to tweak their product to match exactly what the customer needs. This can’t be understated. I jokingly say “no” because in our case I feel like we’re on the cusp of a pretty proprietary solution and application set that separates what we’re doing in the market. But I think as far as what we know as of right now, absolutely I would. GES has been a real pleasure to work with, and the relationship continues to develop as we both look to improve upon what we’ve accomplished thus far, which is exciting for all parties involved.

Between Rose and Chris I can’t say enough good things about the GES team. I’ve felt like from the start they’ve been engaged with me to help me solve a problem. Since the inception we’ve been working closely to help solve the challenge at hand and we’ve collectively kept peeling the onion. For instance, when we started we had a problem with our pump system at the application stage. Come to find out, the polymer heats up to a pretty high temperature and the seals of the deployment pump would fail. I called Chris to ask him what he thought was happening and he was like, ‘if you’re not immediately trying to pump that through the pump prior to it heating up, yeah, it’s going to wreck the seals.’ So we solved the problem by finding a high-temperature chemical seal, which he was engaged with at the outset. I can’t even begin to tell you how many emails he sent me with resources full of information to look into when it came to finding an appropriate seal.

As we’ve gone through evaluating the product, they’ve been there. They want to help us find the perfect solution. I have no doubt that if we come out of spring and the product has deteriorated or is non-existent, Chris is going to be right there and spend more time trying to figure out where we go to move forward and solve it. That’s the kind of guy he is…

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Are you faced with a terrain based challenge you’re not sure how to best tackle? Contact the friendly folks here at GES. We’ll hear you out, and lead you down the best path to successful resolution. We’re with you every step of the way…

GES: For the Earth, with the Earth in Mind.