Anti-ageing cream makes UK’s motorways younger and cleaner

A new blend of materials make up an asphalt mix that could keep road surface flexible for longer lowering its carbon footprint

Pathway to COP26 report

A new blend of materials that acts as an anti-ageing cream for road surfaces could help UK streets last longer, shrinking their related carbon dioxide emissions.

A section of carriageway in Northamptonshire has been the first high traffic road in the country to be tested with the new measure.

The new asphalt mix, which follows a partnership of Highways England with building materials firm Tarmac and energy company Total, is designed to oxidise more slowly, keeping the road surface flexible for longer and preventing the formation of cracks.

The research showed more durable road surfaces mean lower carbon emissions created by maintenance work.

Total estimates resurfacing a mile of single lane carriageway, excluding transport to site and work within it, equates to 26.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

With a need for England’s highways expected to be resurfaced every ten to twelve years, the new technology is forecast to save the equivalent of the carbon dioxide emitted by a vehicle driven for more than 270,000 miles.

That is more than ten times around the Earth.

Mike Wilson, Highways England’s Chief Highways Engineer, said: “Longer lasting roads means fewer roadworks, less disruption for motorists and a more sustainable network for everyone.”

Rick Ashton, Market Development Manager at Total, said: “These long-life binders will ultimately lead towards our vision of net zero carbon by 2050 by reducing roadworks, saving manufacturing, transport and installation energy and the associated emissions.”

Brian Kent, Technical Director at Tarmac, said: “What we have in this case is essentially an anti-ageing cream for roads, just as these products are designed to reduce and prevent the signs of fine lines and overall ageing of the skin, the new bitumen being trialled on the A43 will protect the road surface.”

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