3 Hidden Superpowers Of Modern Asphalt
Believe it or not, asphalt is useful for far more than just covering roads, parking lots and sidewalks. In fact, the technology that goes into making asphalt has progressed greatly over the last century, and the asphalt of today is a major engineering feat. The matter that supports your feet and tires on a daily basis is probably engineered to cut down on noise, protect itself, and even heal itself.
Asphalt has been engineered recently to be more porous and laid in layers, as this combination of factors cuts down on road noise. As opposed to noisier pavement options like concrete or older asphalt, this configuration allows for noise reduction of up to 3 decibels. This seemingly small advantage can be a great way to quiet roadside neighborhoods, especially those right next to a busy highway. To get this effect, two layers are necessary, one layer of larger particles is laid on top of another layer of smaller particles, which allows noise to escape between the larger particles.
One of the main things that can degrade a pavement surface is the presence of oils and gasoline, and one place where this has become a huge issue is in airports. One way airport designers have coped with this problem recently is with specially designed asphalt that resists jet fuel, which can infiltrate and degrade traditional surfaces quickly. Fuel-resistant asphalt is very dense and highly modified, but there is a common industry recipe that has become the standard in the last decade.
One of the more cutting edge improvements in asphalt has been the introduction of asphalt that has the ability to fix its own cracks with the simple addition of heat. The way this system works is by the addition of tiny steel wool fibers to the mix, which not only increases the durability of the material, but gives it an almost magical way of healing itself quickly and with only the use of heat applied by a machine resembling a rolling oven.
The engineering marvels of the modern age are often attributed solely to bridges, skyscrapers, and high-tech cars. However, one of the most amazing of these feats could be slipping right under your feet without you knowing. The advances in asphalt manufacturing over the last few decades have allowed this simple pavement option to do amazing things, which is good news for taxpayers, neighbors of highways, drivers, flyers and walkers alike.