Scientists developing self-healing asphalt

December 3, 2014 | By | In News

If you’re fed up of constantly dodging potholes on your morning commute, or you’ve felt the sting of a substantial repair bill at the hands of these suspension-damaging craters, help is at hand – scientists are in the process of creating a new road surface that can heal itself.

A team of researchers from Bath, Cardiff and Cambridge universities have infused asphalt with special bacteria, which can be used to fill the cracks and holes caused by poor weather.

The bacteria is housed in minute capsules, which burst apart when wet, causing a chemical reaction that results in the formation of limestone, which seals the surface before a pothole can take hold.

British drivers are blighted by potholes more so than our European counterparts, due to the type of asphalt used in the UK. It’s more porous than that used in sunnier climes, which helps clear surface water during a deluge, resulting in safer road conditions in the wet. However, during a cold snap, this water that seeps into the road can freeze, causing it to expand and damage the surface.

This new breakthrough could have a number of positive effects, not least in ensuring smoother and safer journeys. The researchers claim that it not only lasts longer than traditional asphalt, but also eliminates the need for on-the-spot repairs – which could reduce overall costs by around 50 per cent.

Local councils would also have to pay out less in compensation to drivers who’ve had their cars damaged by potholes.

On a wider scale, the self-healing surface could also benefit the environment, through its reduced maintenance requirements, as cement production currently accounts for around seven per cent of global CO2 emissions.

Picture: Fotolia

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