Asphalt-rubber mix for roads studied
Houghton — Researchers at Michigan Technological University are helping study whether building roads using asphalt mixed with rubber from ground-up scrap tires is a good idea for states like Michigan.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has awarded several grants to study rubberized asphalt, including two totaling $1.2 million to Michigan Tech, the Houghton school recently announced.
One grant funds a study aimed at reducing emissions and odor. The other tests a new technology that could, among other things, lower energy costs. Some other states use rubberized asphalt, but Michigan wants to know more about how it works as seasons change.
David Hand, chairman of the school’s civil and environmental engineering department, leads the study about emissions and odor. He said officials want to know if adding crumb rubber to asphalt will allow crews to meet Michigan’s current air quality emissions standards.
“They want to make sure that nothing is being added to the pavement that could harm the environment,” Hand said in a statement. “And they also want us to evaluate options for reducing the odors from asphalt plants.”
With more than $330,000 from the state and matching funds from private sources, the team will test various mixtures and additives to determine the best mix. They also will be looking at ways to neutralize odors that are typically caused in the process.
The second study focuses on a technology developed by Professor Zhanping You. Using $1.7 million in funding, including more than $855,000 from the DEQ and additional private support, he will be refining and testing a way to make rubberized asphalt under cooler temperatures.
“The conventional hot-mix asphalt uses a lot of energy and releases a lot of fumes,” You said. “We use a foaming process at lower temperatures, which requires less energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.”
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