Connect Plus, which manages the London orbital motorway for highways England, has been sufficiently impressed by Skanska’s work in pavement innovation to consider going further and pave the way for more widespread trials across the UK.
Last week Skanska laid fully recyclable, graphene-enhanced asphalt, Gipave, on a busy main road in Curbridge for Oxfordshire County Council. The first UK trial of the material is being led by Directa Plus, a producer and supplier of graphene-based products for use in consumer and industrial markets, and Iterchimica, an Italian based producer of asphalt additives.[See our previous report here.]
The Curbridge works, delivered by subcontractor Aggregate Industries, involved removal and reinstatement of the existing carriageway to a depth of 150mm over a 750-metre section. One lane was replaced using conventional materials, effectively acting as the control measure, while the opposite ‘trial’ lane was resurfaced using Gipave.
At the same time, on the M25 in Essex, Skanska laid an asphalt surface course between junctions 25 and 26 containing 50% recycled asphalt pavement – standard UK practice has always been to use no more than 10% recycled material in roads.
The M25 work was carried out in partnership with Connect Plus and suppliers Toppesfield and FM Conway.
Skanska said that both new materials will now be monitored and assessed, and it was in discussions with Connect Plus to trial graphene-enhanced asphalt on the M25.
Skanska operations director Jim Daughton said: “Exploring these new materials is about taking a new approach to tackling two of the biggest issues facing the highways industry and UK drivers – reducing potholes and improving the quality of our infrastructure for the future while driving down carbon. We’re always looking for new ways to provide best value and our innovative approach enables us to deliver better and more effective projects for our customers and their communities, so we’re delighted to be the first to trial graphene asphalt in the UK and increase use of recycled materials. If successful, these innovative products could transform highways maintenance in the UK, extensively extending the life of key highways infrastructure affected by significant traffic loads, while reducing carbon, which is key as we work with our supply chain to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.”
Connect Plus chief executive Andy Dean said: “At Connect Plus, we are committed to reducing environmental impact and to creating a sustainable and durable road network. We are always looking to identify ways of improving roads users’ journeys so we welcome Skanska’s trial of recycled asphalt on one of the UK’s busiest motorways.”