Construction News

Tue September 21 2021

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Raw graphene being trialled on the A1

9 Sep A new way of using graphene in road surfacing is being trialled by National Highways.

Image from National Highways
Image from National Highways

Graphene-enhanced asphalt will be laid this month on a three-mile stretch of the A1 in Northumberland to see it the wonder material makes the surface last longer.

National Highways is claiming the application as ‘a world first’. It is and isn’t. Gipave graphene-enhanced asphalt has been used several times over the past three years, including trials in Oxfordshire and Kent, as well as numerous sites in Italy, where it is made.

Gipave is a polymeric supermodifier containing graphene and a selected type of hard plastic. It takes the form of pellets, which are added to surfacing in hot mix asphalt plants then transported to sites.

National Highways is not using Gipave in Northumberland. It is adding ‘raw’ graphene directly to a recycled asphalt mix on site in a single pass operation at the time of recycling to improve the end product of the recycled material.

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The novel resurfacing will take place along three miles of the northbound carriageway between Newton on the Moor and West Cawledge, south of Alnwick, from Sunday 19th September to Monday 1st November 2021.

The trials are being conducted with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) at the University of Manchester and Pavement Testing Services (PTS).

National Highways asset needs manager Graeme Watt said: “Laboratory trials have been a success and the on-site trials in Northumberland will be a world first use of graphene in road production, which enforces our commitment to innovation and helps to push the industry towards more carbon-friendly maintenance with longer-lasting solutions which we all benefit from.

“Graphene’s benefits are industry-changing. It’s stronger than steel and adding it to other materials can turn them into super materials. From what we’ve seen so far, it could make some of our assets last significantly longer.”

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