For decades, materials such as concrete, asphalt, and seal coating have helped builders discover new construction methods. Despite the long history behind these construction tools and strategies, the future still seems wide open to more innovations. Here are just a few road material and design trends to keep your eyes on this year and into the future.
Ground Penetrating Radar
In Maine, construction experts are using ground penetrating radar to optimize the state’s asphalt maintenance. With the help of PaveScan RDM by Geophysical Survey Systems, Inc. the state’s department of transportation can measure the density uniformity of pavement. By doing so, the department hopes to find weak points in the pavement and increase its lifespan. Even seemingly small defects in a density can lead to larger problems in the future, so this new technology might cut down on the need for asphalt repair.
A partnership between KWS, Wavin, and Total is resulting in the development and testing of modular roadways. PlasticRoad, a prefabricated bicycle path made of recycled plastic, debuted in the Netherlands in September 2018. The road’s unique construction offers numerous benefits over traditional asphalt. For example, it can be installed much faster, has a permeable structure for better drainage, and might even have a longer lifespan. In addition, its light and hollow design allows for easy access to pipe and cable networks. Although it’s currently only a bike path, it offers a glimpse into potential roadway innovations.
Toby McCartney, an engineer in the UK, recently uncovered a way to use recycled plastic in asphalt. This innovation could lead to a greener solution to road repairs. According to McCartney, the use of plastic pellets also enhances both the strength and lifespan of a roadway.
Cumbria in North West England began using recycled plastic in road resurfacing efforts back in late 2016, with the help of McCartney’s company, MacRebur. The results of those efforts might soon lead to new innovations around the world.
Potholes are a persistent and costly problem for many roadways. However, the introduction of self-healing asphalt might someday change that. At Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, researchers are experimenting with asphalt that might provide a high durability solution to common pothole problems. The asphalt combines bitumen and steel wool, and when heated, the components can rebind. This can increase the overall lifespan of a roadway.
While some of these innovations might not take off until 2020 or beyond, keep an eye on their development throughout 2019. You might be surprised at how quickly new technology is rolled out.
January 23, 2019