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Initiatives make road building and repair easier

28 January 2014

Two new initiatives are promising to make road building and roadworks more environmentally friendly and less frustrating for motorists.

Lafarge Tarmac and the Carbon Trust are launching a new lower-temperature asphalting (LTA) process that it says reduced carbon emissions by 39% on a pilot project with Leicestershire County Council completed last year.

Conventional road material is made by bonding aggregates and bitumen into asphalt by heating them to between 1,800 and 1,900 degrees C. But the temperatures used in the new process are much lower – from 60 to 130 degrees C – saving energy and costs.

The project was led by Lafarge Tarmac and the Carbon Trust’s Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator Programme, with government funding from DECC and BIS.

If the new specification is adopted and LTA achieves 21% of the total UK asphalt market over the next decade, it could save £46.2m in energy cost and around 260,000 tonnes of CO2 during the manufacturing of these materials over the next 10 years.

Transport Minister Robert Goodwill recently announced that £1.9bn will be spent on British roads this year.

However, the shift to lower temperature asphalt is likely to be gradual, as companies need to invest significant capital in installing equipment.

Osiris says repair of gas leaks takes just hours with its new vehicle

Martin Riley, managing director for Lafarge Tarmac’s asphalt and aggregates business, said: “It will take time for these materials to become available. But as producers follow our lead and adopt this technology, there will be a growing movement to embrace LTAs as direct replacements for conventional hot asphalts.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool company Osiris Subsurface Detection Systems of Woolton has won a Merseyside Innovation Award for developing a more efficient way to dig up roads to repair cables and pipework underneath.

Typically, contractors repairing gas leaks for the National Grid require a diamond-coring vehicle to cut into the surface and a vacuum-excavator vehicle to extract the material underneath. Osiris combined the two vehicles into one which makes repair work areas smaller, thereby allowing freer movement of traffic around it.

Osiris now has seven prototype vehicles in service with Scotia Gas Networks and local authorities are showing interest in the vehicles.

The method reduces time from detection of gas leaks to complete repair from four days to just a few hours.

Osiris is also working with Northern Gas Networks until the end of March testing the combination of its vehicle with an acoustic camera to detect pipe damage and hear leaks.

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