All drivers and commuters have felt the inconvenience of roads with potholes. Bumps are usually the consequence of this; and worse, they cause road accidents and ultimately death when the roads are not built according to standard road design.
While there are ways to mitigate this, some materials scientists are looking at a different solution, a more preventive approach: develop self-healing roads.
The most common materials used in building roads are concrete and asphalt. The latter has been the focus of materials scientist Erik Schlangen, who is leading the Experimental MicroMechanics division at Delft University of Technology.
Source: Press Association
Because asphalt is porous, it provides an advantage: the pores absorb noise. At the same time a disadvantage, as those pores could lead to cracks and potholes.
Schlangen seeks to answer this characteristic of asphalt by mixing steel fiber to make the material conductive. It only needs a large induction machine to fun over this special asphalt so that the heat helps close the cracks on the road.
Yup, the future of roads is not entirely self-healing, only partially. It will need the machine so that there will be no potholes.
Since self-healing roads has an additive, it costs more than the regular asphalt roads. Schlangen revealed that they are 25 percent more expensive than typical asphalt.
Source: American Asphalt Company
However, that increase in cost comes with a longer period of good condition roads. When the regular asphalt roads have a 7 to 10 years lifespan, the self-healing asphalt could last twice as long.
For that, one estimate said that Netherlands could save 90 million Euros annually if they use self-healing asphalt roads.
Soon, that would be the case as the country has started testing the material in 12 roads. One has been open since 2010 and all are in excellent condition.