4 May 2021
by Andrea Gaini

Anti-ageing roads could keep roadworks at bay

A new type of material that acts like an anti-ageing cream for roads could prevent the need for roadworks and reduce the environmental impact.

road works
© Jamie Street/Unsplash

The material was trialled for the first time in the UK in a section of dual carriageway in Northamptonshire.

England’s motorways and major A-roads are expected to be resurfaced every 10-12 years because water, sun and air, combined with the weight of heavy traffic, causes the surface to deteriorate and crack. However, laboratory tests have shown that an innovative blend of materials can help extend the life of the road surface without the need for a facelift.

Highways England, together with partners Tarmac and Total, has resurfaced a busy section of the A43 near Silverstone, in Northamptonshire, with the new asphalt mix.

The mix is held together by a new bitumen called Styrelf Long Life, which is designed to be more resistant to the elements by oxidising more slowly. This slower process means that the road surface stays flexible for longer, preventing cracks forming.

More durable road surfaces that require fewer repairs could lead to less money needing to be spent on maintenance, lower carbon emissions caused by maintenance work and less disruption for road users.

Total estimates that getting the asphalt required to resurface a mile of single lane carriageway – not including transport to site and working with it – can produce up to 26.5 tonnes of CO2.

If roads lasted longer, so that two sets of resurfacing could be avoided in a 60-year period, the reduction in asphalt production alone could save the equivalent of the CO2 produced by an average car if it was driven for more than 270,000 miles – more than 10 times around the Earth.


Andrea Gaini