We drive on asphalt roads every day, our parking lots and driveways are paved with asphalt, it is a vital part of our everyday life, especially as it involves our transportation. Asphalt is one of the most important materials in America. Of the nearly 2.2 million miles of paved roads in the United States of America, more than 90% are constructed with the use of asphalt. With the world going green, due to concerns about the effects of pollution on our environment, recycling has been adopted by all governments and industries to reduce the degradation of the environment and to protect and conserve the earth’s resources and save the ozone layer.
The road construction industry produces a lot of pollutants, from the acquisition of raw materials to the refining process and the process of road construction. Luckily Asphalt is one of the most used substances in road construction and there is a constant drive to develop new ways to recycle asphalt and reduce energy consumption and pollution in the process.
The national asphalt pavement association of America lists asphalts as the most recycled product in America. Asphalt is recycled in America at a rate of about 99.9%. Asphalt is especially good for paving roads because it reduces the noise level by up to 5 decibels. Asphalt pavements that are well constructed and smooth, reduce the fuel consumption of cars that run on them. Asphalt paved roads deteriorate at a very slow rate, this means that by maintaining roads paved with asphalt they could serve their purpose for a very long time. Asphalt was used in early times asphalt as binding for blocks in buildings.
In this article we will discuss the process of asphalt recycling, the uses of asphalts and why recycling asphalt is important in the world’s efforts to go green, to save the environment and the earth as a whole.
Benefits of recycling asphalt
Exploration of crude oil is a serious energy-consuming process, it pollutes the environment and puts the earth at risk of global warming and natural disasters, recycling asphalt reduces the amount of new oil and asphalt that needs to be produced to pave roads and other construction works.
When asphalt is recycled on-site with new recycling techniques and technology, it reduces the cost of construction as well as the waste of construction material. Typically, the asphalt removed from spoilt roads is sent to landfills or recycling plants.
During the asphalt paving process, mineral particles are produced, when asphalt is recycled, these mineral particles are also recycled, this is a way of conserving natural resources.
Government and taxpayers are saved money by the recycling of asphalt, instead of acquiring new materials for road construction or maintenance.
The cost implications of road construction on the contractors are reduced due to onsite, recycling of asphalt and the use of modern machines. They do not need to buy and transport new construction material to the site or transport asphalt for recycling.
Asphalt can be recycled as many times as possible. When asphalt is recycled, its quality improves, it does not crack easily. Recycling asphalt results in reduced demand for new asphalt and aggregate.
The recycling of asphalt benefits the environment in many ways, one of them is the recycling of other materials such as old tires and roofing shingles during the process.
How is asphalt recycled?
In other to reduce cost and emissions and also conserve energy, asphalt is being increasingly recycled on-site and then reused to pave roads. Manufacturers of asphalt recycling and construction equipment like Caterpillar, Volvo, Bomag, Mauldin. Etc. are constantly researching and developing new and more environmentally friendly ways of recycling asphalt. With the use of asphalt, the same material previously used to pave those roads can be recycled on or off-site and used to reconstruct the road or lay another new and much stronger pavement. Here are some ways that asphalt is recycled and reused to pave roads.
Cold in-place recycling.
This is one of the greenest or environmentally friendly methods of recycling asphalt. First, the previous pavement is removed by a cold mining machine, this removal can go as deep as 4 inches. Next, the removed pavement is crushed and mixed with an additive then a recycling agent is added to the material. After this process, the material is placed back on the road and compacted.
This process can be done with the different machines occupying only one lane on the road, thus allowing the free flow of traffic. Adopting this process also conserves resources as heat is not used. The asphalt recycling association recommends this process because it saves costs up to 40% as compared to other conventional methods.
This is process involves the removal of the previous pavement and mixing it at a plant, with a hot new aggregate and a recycling agent. The new mix is then transported to the site and used for road construction. The old pavement is removed using a cold planing machine or by crushing.
Hot, In-Place Recycling.
With this process, the pavement is heated to soften the asphalt, the asphalt is then milled and mixed. Then a recycling agent and new materials are added to the asphalt, the asphalt is then used to make a new pavement.
In recent years the world has become more aware of the negative effects of pollution and indiscriminate exploration of earth resources. As the ozone layers are depleted, climatic conditions change and create natural deserters. As man continues to evolve, looking for greener ways to produce and use energy is of utmost importance. Asphalt as a 100 % recyclable material presents a good opportunity for protecting our environment and our environment. Inventing better ways of recycling can help save the earth from the impending effects of pollution.