Roads made with recycled tyres last twice as long in hot weather

Roads appear to be in constant need of maintenance, but a different recipe could help them survive longer. Another benefit of putting rubber from old tyres onto asphalt, according to Australian researchers, is that it provides additional UV protection, which might help roads survive up to twice as long before splitting.

Anyone who has ever walked down a scorching road knows how hot it can get. Despite being exposed to the elements all day, every day, nothing is done to protect them from sun damage, resulting in the cracks and potholes that all drivers are familiar with.

Researchers at RMIT University in Australia have discovered an environmentally friendly approach to protecting roads from the sun’s rays in a new study. Crumb rubber, a ground-up material generated from scrap rubber goods such as old tires, is the key. It’s already been proven to make concrete stronger and more heat resistant, so the researchers wondered if it could also protect asphalt from UV radiation degradation.

The team put crumb rubber in the top layer of asphalt at three different concentrations to test the idea: 7.5 percent, 15 percent, and 22.5 percent. The samples were then placed in a system that exposed them to high amounts of UV radiation for a month and a half, simulating the accelerated aging process that local roads would go through in a year.

Finally, changes in the asphalt’s chemical and mechanical properties were quantified.

The researchers discovered that samples with the highest proportion of rubber had half the amount of UV damage as conventional asphalt. Putting too much in, on the other hand, may reduce the road’s resilience to mechanical harm.

“We found adding between 18 percent and 22 percent of crumb rubber generates an ideal balance in terms of improving rut and fatigue resistance to traffic loads while resisting UV aging,” said Filippo Giustozzi, lead author of the study. “This acts so effectively as a sunscreen for roads that it actually makes the surface last twice as long as regular bitumen.” We knew UV would play a role in road degradation, but we didn’t know how much or how to guard against it because no one had actually looked into it.

The approach also has the benefit of giving aged tires a new lease of life. These waste products are a serious environmental danger that continues to grow, so discovering practical ways to recycle them is a welcome development.

The Journal of Cleaner Production reported the findings.

Source: RMIT University

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