Special from Industrial Minerals Magazine
By Emma Hughes
Pitching itself as a leader in its field, or the baseball one more specifically, EP Minerals LLC has launched a new calcined clay product designed to keep consistent conditions throughout the game.
Dubbed BallGame Changer, the clay conditioner features patent-pending KT3 surface technology, formulated to keep baseball infields (dirt) moist, not muddy, while controlling dust and reducing water usage.
Jeff Kitchens, vice president of performance aggregates for EP Minerals, explained: “This product is an incredible leap forward to manage baseball infields and solve problems for today’s groundskeepers. It controls dust, keeps the fields moist, and keeps playing conditions consistent for the whole game.”
EP Minerals uses its own montmorillonite clay, mined in Tennessee, to produce BallGame Changer. This clay is highly absorbent and nonflammable. It absorbs liquids, including most oils, water, mixtures of soluble oils and water, grease, gas, acids, inks, and paints.
In order to reach the standard required for BallGame Changer, EP Minerals processes the clay by calcining at up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit in a kiln. It is this calcining process that turns the clay the deep red colour that has become synonymous with baseball fields.
A portion of that clay is then infused with a proprietary blend of a non-ionic surface treatment to reduce the surface tension of water and allow more water to penetrate into and throughout the soil – more quickly and easily.
“It took us months to get the chemistry right in the surface treatment, because some surfactants are persistent for only a few months. We needed something that would be long lasting,” EP Minerals told IM.
“What we found is that water infiltration rates were twice as fast with BallGame Changer, providing double the amount of water penetration over the same time period. The result was baseball infields stayed moist, but not muddy, through the 9th inning of the baseball game,” it added.
These conditions meant that the groundskeeper used less water and the fields took less time to maintain.
XHEAD Supply and demand
EP Minerals made the decision to develop a new calcined clay product for the baseball industry after surveying groundskeepers and field managers on what they felt were the biggest problems or issues with infields today, the company told IM.
“The biggest complaint was the amount of dust during the latter innings of the game (…) they asked us to create a product that would make the infields less dusty. While fields are watered right before the game starts, the field would be dry by the 6th or 7th inning – leading to lots of dust and hard fields. And, if they choose to water the infields again in the later innings, this led to muddy conditions and increased water usage. We needed to develop a product to solve this problem,” it added.
After working for months on the KT3 Technology soil moisture management capabilities in BallGame Changer, EP Minerals engineers and chemists moved to literally field-test the product.
“We tested BallGame Changer at major league, minor league, college, and high school fields around the US. The result was a product that provides increased moisture retention even in extreme heat, lower water applications, and great dust control,” said Kitchens.
“That means reduced water costs and less maintenance, all with better playing conditions. You can’t beat that,” he added.
The company told IM that it has received a great response to all of its tests and is now working to “bring BallGame Changer to the market right away”.
For more information on BallGame Changer, visit https://epminerals.com/products/ballgame-changer.