The sun’s rays often damage asphalt roads in different ways. UV rays make the pavement weaker and lead to cracks, uneven surfaces, and water seepage.
When the temperatures drop down, the temperature difference furthers the cracking of the pavement and this is why we often see potholes at the end of warm and cold seasons.
The maintenance and replacement of these roads are therefore crucial. However, this doesn’t mean that the status quo is okay.
This is why there are efforts by scientists to create materials for these roads that will be longer-lasting and less prone to damage.
Roads Made from Recycled Tires May Double the Durability despite Hot Weather
RMIT University researchers did experiments in which they used rubber from used-and-discarded tires to create freshly lied asphalt.
The conclusion was that this rubber and bitumen mixture is 50% less prone to damage from the sun. this could result in longer-lasting roads.
This method doesn’t just better the longevity of the roads but also contributes to a reduction in the tire issue. In the US only, more than 300 million scrap tires are made. Most of them end up in landfills as they’re not recyclable in a conventional manner.
A Road Sunscreen?
Though most research has been focused on strengthening the durability of the road in terms of the traffic load, very little focus went into the wear and tear on asphalt done by the sun.
Virtually, regions from all over the world are influenced by it. Pavement strips on parking lots and roads are a consequence of the oxidation of the asphalt from chemical reactions that UV rays cause.
The RMIT team used a specialized UV machine for asphalt studies. This machine simulates the long-term effects of solar degradation on the roads.
They turned it on in the lab at bitumen combined with three types of rubber concentrations. One was low, another one was medium, and the third was high. The machine went on for a month and a half and simulated around one year of UV radiation throughout Melbourne.
The final measurements showed that the bitumen with a high concentration of crumb rubber had 50 percent less UV damage in comparison to the regular asphalt.
According to RMIT University associate professor, Filippo Giustozzi, head author of the study, explains that the aging trend slows down when crumb rubber is added. This rubber is recycled from discarded tires and placed into the top layer of the road.
In a way, they act like sunscreen for the roads. This results in a surface that lasts twice as long as the regular bitumen, Giustozzi added.