The asphalt repair and asphalt paving industries are constantly working to improve the performance of bitumen, better known as asphalt. This remarkable substance covers up to 90% of roads across America. You may not realize the advancements occurring right beneath your tires, but these changes affect the environment and driving conditions of all drivers.
Although it is now produced from crude oil, asphalt is actually a naturally occurring substance that can be found in lakes such as Pitch Lake in Trinidad. It can also be mixed with substances including gravel, sand, and stone, creating blacktops and asphalt concrete. It is used so frequently due to its durable properties as well as its inexpensive and speedy application. Research into nanoclays and asphalt, though, have shown opportunities for progress these areas.
Influential Asphalt Technology Research
Researcher Zhanping You and his team from the Michigan Technological University are looking into asphalt repair technology. Together they found that adding nanoclays to asphalt makes it a much stiffer material. These findings have opened the possibilities for enhancing asphalt under conditions of heavy traffic and extreme weather, lessening the likelihood of pot holes. One of asphalt’s major faults, potholes are costly and dangerous. The MIT research group is testing their enhanced asphalt paving solution for regular use, offering an answer to the pothole problem.
It turns out, though, that stiffer asphalt offers benefits beyond lessening potholes. It also could collectively save drivers $15.6 billion through reduced crude oil consumption. This staggering number was calculated by another MIT research group lead by researchers Dr. Franz-Josef Ulm and student Mehdi Akarbian. Studying the effect of physical forces on asphalt, they found that asphalt warps under the pressure of a car and, therefore, cars are always traveling slightly uphill. Vehicle fuel consumption could be reduced by up to 3 percent with stiffer nanoclay asphalt, significantly lowering the environmental footprint.
Read about Unique Paving Material’s work in asphalt repair technology with their Cold Mix Asphalt Repair. This cold asphalt patching solution is the first of its kind with added flexibility, allowing it to move with the changing pavement.