11.07.20 Past Master Martin Payne

Potholes – they’re not all they’re cracked up to be

Past Master Martin Payne wonders if potholes could become a thing of the past.

Potholes? They’re not all they’re cracked up to be. Wouldn’t it be clever if the road surface could repair itself? Porous asphalt used on many roads in Northern Europe reduces noise pollution and drains surface water more effectively. But the downside is that it is not that durable and potholes develop within a few years. Given the ever-increasing volume of traffic on our roads, a self-sealing surface would be quite advantageous.

Erik Schlangen, an engineering professor at Delft University of Technology, however, has invented a self-healing type of asphalt that has a lifespan double that of the traditional porous variety. Porous asphalt contains lots of pores, which aid surface oxidation, the bitumen becomes brittle and then cracks. As vehicles drive over the surface the stone at the surface come off and hey presto, you have a pothole.

The solution? Add small amounts of steel wool fibres to the bitumen mix. When a crack appears simply apply an induction plate to heat up the steel wool, the bitumen melts and the cracks close. This repair function could be carried out every two years; tests in the Netherlands have proved the concept. Although the road surface might cost more the steel wool/bitumen mix could double its life reducing costly maintenance and insurance claims.

I would suggest that this is a cracking idea – thoughts to Paynem@btinternet.com