A new invention in the asphalt world could be the future we’ve been looking for! Erik Schlangen, a materials scientist at Delft University in the Netherlands may have found a solution to the problem of cracking asphalt by developing a so-called “self-healing” asphalt. This asphalt mixture would allow asphalt roads and pavements to fix themselves, avoiding blocking roads for road work and increasing the lifespan of asphalt pavements. As you probably know by now, if you’re a regular reader of our blog, a typical asphalt road lasts for several years before it begins to crack. By using the self-healing asphalt, the lifespan of roads could be doubled. Although the self-healing asphalt would cost 25% more than normal asphalt, the benefits of a doubled lifespan outweighs these costs.
Her’s How It Work:
First, Sclangen mixed small steel fibers in the self-healing asphalt mixture, making the asphalt a good conductor of heat. Next, when cracks start appearing on the self-healing asphalt, an induction machine is used to add heat and warm up the asphalt and steel fibers. This process results in the small crack on the asphalt closing on their own. Heat from the sun also created the same effect, but the use of the induction machine is much more efficient. The ultimate goal of Schlangen’s self-healing asphalt mixture is to make life easier for daily commuters by avoiding roadwork.
Where It’s Being Tested:
So far, this asphalt mixture has been tested on 12 different roads in the home of the inventor. The Netherlands. One of these roads has been successfully operating for around seven years. Estimated suggest that if all roads in the Netherlands are made out of self-healing asphalt, the country could save $99 million a year.
We hope that this self-healing asphalt expands the further into the USA as it would drastically benefit the way we construct roads and maintain them, saving us time, money and energy.