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Sustainability

Smart Construction Materials: Self Healing Asphalt

Alice-India Garwood
by Alice-India Garwood on October 15, 2018

Road repairs of any kind are usually best done when the road is still in a relatively good condition. Arguably road repair should be somewhat preventative for further damage. It’s not long before a small crack becomes a small hole and then a bigger one.

With something like a hairline crack, there isn’t much you can really do about that until it reaches around ½ - ¾ inch. At this point it’s time to act by cleaning and sealing. ¾ inch or larger you’re going to want to look in to using an asphalt emulsion slurry seal or another hot poured sealant

The best materials for this kind of repair need to be elastic but ultimately resistant to softening. Materials like asphalt emulsions, rubberised asphalt or self levelling silicone.

asphalt, bobtrade, construction, materials, building, road repair, efficiency, innovation[Photo Credit: Oxford Dictionaries]

"Road repair should be a preventative process."

That’s all pretty standard info, so what if we told you that in the last year there had been developments in self healing asphalt? We already have self healing concrete and self healing houses, but this could revolutionise the spending on road repairs saving councils across the country thousands of pounds.

Thanks to developments in nanotechnology, pot holes and other nuisance road problems could be a thing of the future. Mixing iron oxide with bitumen as part of the asphalt mix then heating it very gently, using a slight magnetic field, allows the bitumen to melt and seep into the cracks. In this instance the asphalt is essentially healing itself with little to no input from construction workers.

"Using a slight magnetic field, allows the bitumen to melt and seep into the cracks allowing the asphalt to heal itself."

asphalt, bobtrade, construction, materials, building, road repair, efficiency, innovation[Photo Credit: CNet]

This innovation comes from ETH Zurich, the minds behind robotic timber construction. Year on year this team are developing new ways to make construction and engineering safer and easier for all of us and increasing our efficiency.

By applying a light magnetic field to roads using this bitumen and iron oxide asphalt mixture every year could save us all thousands of pounds and hundreds of man hours. The mix would have the opportunity to melt and sink in to the smallest of cracks. This would be a brilliant preventative measure for road repairs.

"Applying a light magnetic field to roads using a bitumen and iron oxide asphalt mixture could save us thousands of pounds and hundreds of man hours."

And how would they achieve this annual asphalt TLC? According to Etienne Jeoffrey of ETH it would be done using a large vehicle like a van or truck. By attaching the magnetic field with a coil to the truck, the vehicle could drive across the section of road and activate the melting bitumen. This would mean that road closures would be minimal and inexpensive.

asphalt, bobtrade, construction, materials, building, road repair, efficiency, innovation[Photo Credit: EMPA]

We’re super excited by any opportunity to increase the efficiency of necessary services like road repairs. The amount of time wasted for commuters and construction workers alike could be reduced with better preventative road care. This is going to be a really interesting development and we can’t wait to see how far it gets. Could this be used in other forms of construction?

"Preventative road care could save commuters hours of travel time and reduce likelihood of accidents".

From self healing concrete to glow in the dark cement, bioplastics and buildings made entirely of rubbish, innovations in the efficiency of our construction materials just continue to blow our minds here at Bobtrade. It's an exciting time to be in the industry.

Tags: Sustainability

AUTHOR
Alice-India Garwood

Alice-India Garwood

Content Marketing Executive at Bobtrade. Interested in design, sustainability and the history of construction. I love all things indie and theatrical.