Bumpy roads are the nightmare of any conductor. In addition to causing damage to vehicles (tires, steering, suspension) and even leading to traffic accidents, it requires periodic maintenance on the part of the responsible organs. This maintenance, in addition to being costly, can sometimes take time to complete. A group of European researchers from ACCIONA Infrastructures are developing asphalt that regenerates, closing a hole in just a few hours and without the intervention of machinery or men.
The asphalt is able to “regenerate” 80% of a fissure in just 2 hours and conclude the “closure” of the hole in one day. This regenerative power is due to the incorporation of steel wool to the bitumen, the bonding agent that the asphalt uses to fasten the gravel. Thus, if the asphalt that contains these steel fibers is heated using an induction machine, the bituminous melts and consequently, cracks and holes unite, thereby increasing to double the shelf life of the asphalt.
“We tested a section of 400 meters of road in the south of the Netherlands. We applied heat induction and the material worked perfectly. We used several samples of the road and aged them in the laboratory, placing them in the oven and spraying them with water, then applied the heat of induction. The tests proved that we can increase for double, the shelf life of asphalt surface or perhaps even more”, said Schlangen, one of the project’s responsible scientists. Schlangen says that the application of heat by induction will have to be carried out before the formation of the “hole”, i.e. in the phase where the fissures begin to appear.
Although this type of flooring corresponds to a 25% more expensive solution than a normal flooring, Schlangen estimates still, that the Dutch government could save 9 million euros per year, in the medium or long term, considering the costs associated with the reparations of the roads, notably by mobilizing the ground teams, the cost of the teams, the cost with possible compensation to road users, etc… Moreover, the self-repairing roads would mean fewer loose stones, fewer holes to damage shafts or wheels and fewer closed roads for recalls.
This material is already being tested on some Dutch roads, however Schlangen highlights that, only after a period of 7 to 10 years can be confirmed the properties of this asphalt, as it will be at that time that signs of wear on the pavements begin to emerge.