New asphalt mix trialled as 'anti-ageing cream' for roads
A section of dual carriageway in Northamptonshire is about to get a facelift, literally. It will be the first road in the UK, treated with what Highways England is calling an 'anti-ageing cream' for resurfacing. This new asphalt mix, which will last significantly longer, prevent cracks to the road surface by sun, air and water and reduce the need for repairs, has been developed in partnership with Total and Tarmac.
Creating more durable road surfaces could have a range of benefits. Less money will be required to be spent on road repairs, leading to lower emissions and less disruption for road users.
Total Styrelf Long Life
It may not have the catchiest name, but the new Styrelf polymer-modified binder (PMB) bitumen mix uses similar technology to that used for resurfacing racetracks and heavily trafficked roads. Rather like an anti-ageing cream can smooth wrinkles and cracks and keep the skin flexible, so the Long Life mix has additives to slow down oxidative ageing so the road surface stays flexible and resistant to cracking for longer.
The busy section of the A43 near Silverstone will be resurfaced using standard bitumen, Total Styrelf Extreme 100 and Total Styrelf Long Life. In a 15 year trial, Total will regularly test the different surfaces to measure critical signs of anti-ageing including fretting, thermal cracking and resistance to fatigue. Although the Long Life mix has previously been used in Germany and Holland, this will be the first time worldwide that it's been tested with such high traffic levels.
Styrelf is a high-performance polymer-modified binder (PMB) bitumen that produces a homogenous, fault-free microstructure, making it ideal for extreme conditions. The result of a collaboration between Total and the French Roads Administration Laboratory, Styrelf is suitable for the most demanding applications.
Innovation and sustainability
Commenting on behalf of Highways England, Mike Wilson said the organisation was always looking for ways to innovate and keep the country's motorways and A roads in good condition. Wilson reiterated that the first priority of Highways England is safety, and hopes that the investment in advanced technology would continue to keep roads safe.
As more government agencies explore sustainable solutions in pursuit of the government's net-zero carbon ambitions, the investment in road surfacing innovation will make a valuable contribution. Rick Ashton, market development manager at TOTAL UK, said the company's main focus is sustainability through durability. He hoped the trial would lead to enhanced predictive deterioration modelling and enhanced highways management.
Total has estimated that resurfacing just one mile of single lane road can produce up to 26.5 tonnes of CO2. They predict the longer-lasting road surface could save the C02 equivalent of a car driving round the earth 10 times.
Brian Kent, technical director at Tarmac, said the firm was always punching to introduce new innovations and technology to improve road maintenance. He said the anti-ageing trial fit neatly with Tarmac's commitment to boosting efficiencies across the network, delivering sustainability and improved performance. The Long Life bitumen trial will not only increase the lifespan of the roads but offer improved value for money.