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 in new asphalt technology 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 blacktopand asphalt concrete. It is used so frequently due to its durable properties as well as its inexpensive and speedy application. Further research into nanoclays and asphalt has shown opportunities for progress in these areas.
Influential Asphalt Paving 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 potholes. One of asphalt’s major faults is potholes, which 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% with stiffer nanoclay asphalt, significantly lowering the environmental footprint.
Advancements in New Asphalt Technology
Over the last couple decades, the asphalt and paving industry has evolved to produce sustainable and eco-friendly products that are adaptable to weather and different climates. When it comes to asphalt paving technology, the shift to performance-based products allows for more durable pavement through traffic loading, weathering, and countless other applications.
In addition to utilizing stiffer asphalt to improve the overall quality, new asphalt technology has shown that recycling of reclaimed asphalt and other industrial materials can help reduce costs and benefit the environment.
Asphalt paving technology plays a huge role in the industry’s future and has allowed for new pavement methods to evolve. For example, thermal mapping and image asphalt paving has become a common method for paving and allows for contractors to build long-lasting and safer roads.
Some other asphalt paving technologies include:
- Inset and offset paving machines
- Intelligent compaction
- Placer spreaders
- Oscillatory vibration systems
- Texture curing machines
- Slipform pavers
Contact UNIQUE Paving Materials to Learn More About Asphalt Paving Technology
Read about UNIQUE’s work in asphalt repair technology with our 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.
Be sure to reach out to one of our team members today to learn more about how we utilize new asphalt technology for our products.