What Will Roads of the Future Be Made From?

Asphalt and concrete have long been the go-to materials for paving roadways and other pavement features. However, new pavement materials are always being developed to offer different options.

Whether these new pavement options can withstand the test of time like asphalt and concrete is yet to be seen, but it’s always important to know what future competition may be on the horizon for asphalt and concrete paving. 

New Paving Materials

Recycled Plastic Pellets in Bitumen
Currently, most asphalt mixtures are made up of 5 percent bitumen and a 95 percent mixture of sand, gravel, and stone. In this new mixture, recycled plastics are used in place of some of the bitumen. The plastic is sourced from household plastic waste, and, according to the manufacturer, the new technology will not require modifications to existing asphalt manufacturing plants. Trials of this material are on-going in the United Kingdom.

Bio-Bitumen
With this technology, a bitumen product is made out of general household waste. Materials like plastic, organic materials, paper, and textiles are heated to high temperatures without oxygen in a process called pyrosis. It creates a product similar to bitumen and can be mixed with the sand, gravel, and stone that constitutes an asphalt mixture.

Solar Paving
This new technology consists of a solar panel that can be driven on by lighter vehicles. Likely best suited to be used for driveways, the manufacturer claims that if every paved surface in the country was replaced with solar paving, it would generate three times the country’s energy use. The panels can also incorporate LED lights for road lines and messages, and the panels can be heated to melt snow and ice.

Bio-Asphalt From an Organic Polymer
This technology utilizes lignin, an organic polymer made from plant cell walls and sourced as a by-product of the paper industry, as part of the bitumen mixture. Successful trials have been completed in The Netherlands.

Plastic Roads
A Dutch company has been making a product called PlasticRoad. It consists of pre-fabricated road sections made out of recycled plastic that snap together. The hollow blocks let water and cables pass through.

All of these new paving technologies are in the early stages and will likely not be viable in all applications. Asphalt and concrete will likely be the norm for a long time to come!

Tucker Paving has over 25 years’ worth of experience in the asphalt and concrete paving industry. We also offer pre-construction, site construction, and design-build assistance! Contact us online, or call us at (863) 299-2262, for your next asphalt or concrete paving project!