Skanska is in talks to trial a new form of asphalt enhanced with wonder material graphene on the M25.
The news came after the company laid the fully recyclable asphalt, which it claims is more durable and will therefore reduce potholes as well carbon emissions, in the UK for the first time, on a main road in Curbridge for Oxfordshire County Council.
The works, which were delivered by subcontractor Aggregate Industries, involved removal and reinstatement of the existing carriageway to a depth of 150mm over a 750m-long section. One lane was replaced using conventional materials, while the opposite ‘trial’ lane was resurfaced using the asphalt enhanced by the innovative asphalt modifier developed by Iterchimica.
Skanska said it has already begun discussions with Connect Plus to trial graphene-enhanced asphalt on the M25 network, which could influence the Highways England network, paving the way for more widespread trials across the UK.
The contractor has already laid an asphalt surface course between junctions 25 and 26 of the motorway containing 50% recycled asphalt pavement for the first time. The asphalt contains five times more recycled material than any other motorway surface. Standard practice up until now has been to limit the recycled content of surface courses for motorways and A-roads to around 10%. The work was carried out in partnership with client Connect Plus and suppliers Toppesfield and FM Conway on behalf of Highways England.
Jim Daughton, Skanska’s operations director, said: “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.”
Jason Russell, Oxfordshire County Council’s interim director community operations, said: “Working with Skanska, we recognised the opportunity to be at the forefront of developing new materials which will enhance the roads in the UK. We have taken the approach that trials are an important factor in pushing the boundaries and without the forward thinking we adopt, we would be behind the development curve and not be offering our residents the best we could offer in terms of spending public funds wisely.”