Invent Civil

Civil Engineering news, technology, and opinions

15 Aug, 2008

Hot Mix Asphalt and Air Pollution

Posted by: Skylar In: general

An interesting article at ecofuss has piqued my interest in air pollution and hot mix asphalt. According to the article “Green Asphalt and Concrete: Eco Friendly Streets”,

Earlier this year, the Matter Network discusses how laying asphalt while it is cool instead of hot can save 7 times as much energy during the process. With thousands of miles of US roads getting paved each year, that is some serious energy savings. The problem lies in the fact that US engineers, unlike those overseas, are only familiar with heated laying techniques and measures to predict how well a road will perform. With no cool laying guidelines, it’s not realistic for cool laying techniques to be used, yet. So after some control tests headed by University of Wisconsin civil engineering professor Bahia, cool asphalt may become cooler in the civil engineering world thus allowing us to green our roads and environments.

For more information on air quality and asphalt, visit this article on asphalt by Environment Canada. The Wired Blog also has a more detailed article on the issue here.

There seems to be a common trend in sustainable engineering design. How can designs be innovative when so many standards and regulations are required of the engineer? While it’s certainly a good thing to have quality control, the control should be objective and not a list of rules and conditions that need to be met. In most situations, the additional work required of an engineer to get new ideas approved for any particular project will outweigh the added benefits to the project owner.

On the other hand, it’s very difficult to approve a technology for which you have seen little or no history. I know that as an engineer, I would not feel confident about designing a cold-mix asphalt solution for a client. Considering the difficulties in cutting-edge design, it’s nice to see the expansion of construction standards in these areas. Hats off to professor Bahia.

Another point of interest I stumbled across on the topic is from Ontario’s own Grey County, which has been experimenting with various forms of Rubber Asphalt. It’s an interesting idea, and might deserve a little more attention than it’s getting. Read all about it here.

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