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DURABROADS Report Summary

Project ID: 605404
Funded under: FP7-TRANSPORT
Country: Spain

Periodic Report Summary 2 - DURABROADS (Cost-effective DURABle ROADS by green optimized construction and maintenance)

Project Context and Objectives:
Road transport infrastructure has a great impact on economy and society in Europe and globally, since it underpins economic growth through the creation of jobs and the mobility of people and goods. However, each kilometre of road requires a large amount of materials and energy not only in its construction but also during its maintenance and rehabilitation. Hence, searching for more cost-effective, durable and eco-friendly practices and materials will lead to a tremendous impact.
In addition, negative effects of extreme weather conditions due to climate change, the significant increase of traffic flow in certain motorways due to the opening of freight corridors and the technical limitation of current materials and procedures are starting to have a great influence on the reduction of the asphalt pavements lifetime not only in Europe but also globally.
The continuous increase of freight traffic on an already aged road network is imposing a heavy burden on road structures leading to increasingly frequent maintenance and rehabilitation interventions. Thus, as traffic demand increases and funding becomes more limited, efficient design of more durable materials and pavement sections is of major importance.
The consequences of climate change can already be seen in Europe and worldwide and these impacts are predicted to intensify in the coming decades. Climate change can induce two types of measures: mitigation actions to reduce the negative effects by targeting the decrease of greenhouse gas emissions which are considered the main cause of climate change and adaptation measures envisaging countermeasures for the elimination or at least the reduction of the negative climate consequences. Regarding mitigation actions, EU has called for the need to drastically reduce world greenhouse gas emissions with the goal of limiting climate change below 2ºC. With respect to adaptation measures, even though the adoption of low carbon technology will mitigate the effects of climate change, some impacts are inevitable and road networks will be required to maintain and improve their resilient to extreme weather events.
The concept of DURABROADS project lies in the development of innovative, cost-effective and more durable designs of pavements based on new and eco-friendly nanotechnology-enhanced asphalt materials together with the optimization of roads construction and rehabilitation procedures to build and rehabilitate long-life, safer and greener road infrastructures more adapted to climate change and the high freight corridor traffic loads.
The overall objective is to provide a sustainable growth through the development and demonstration of cost-effective, eco-friendly, durable and resilient pavements based on innovative nanotechnology enhanced asphalts and through the optimization of procedures to build and rehabilitate long-life, safer and greener roads.
The specific objectives of the project are: 1) Identification of best practices for the construction, maintenance and rehabilitation of the road asset; 2) The development of advanced carbon-nanomaterial and carbon/polymer composite modified binders; 3) The development of advanced and high durable warm mix asphalts using the previously obtained binders and maximising the use of by-products and reclaimed asphalt pavement; 4) Developing optimized and long-life pavement sections more resilient to climate change and freight corridors, using previously obtained binder and asphalt mixes; 5) Demonstration of the environmental benefits and economic feasibility of DURABROADS solutions; 6) Demonstration of DURABROADS most promising pavement sections by the implementation in a real case scenario; 7) Definition of the criteria to include DURABROADS solutions into Green Public Procurement Procedures and 8) Identification of the next steps to be followed for the future standardization of the new materials developed.

Project Results:
During this reporting period, five work packages were active; WP1, WP3, WP4, WP5, WP6 and WP8. Work packages 3, 4, 5 and 6 are technical activities while WP1 and WP8 correspond to the project management and dissemination of results respectively.
In this reporting period, the investigation of different compounds and mixing processes has been carried out for the achievement of the main objective of WP3: the production of a carbon-nanomaterial modified-binder. Thus, several species (graphite nanoplatelets and microflakes, expanded graphite, graphite oxide, N-doped graphene nanosheets, carbon black) and new processing methods (graphite functionalization and in-situ generation of graphene nanosheets in bitumen concentrates) have been tested with this aim. Finally, two bitumen were developed that fulfil the requirement of the standards applied for EU bitumen. The selected bitumen offers comparable or greater properties that a conventional polymer modified bitumen (PMB). In particular, the carbon black modified bitumen behaves better to ageing resistance than conventional PMB while meet minimum values required for their fundamental properties.
The bitumen developed in WP3 is being used in WP4 for the development of durable asphalt mixes which, in addition, include the use of high amounts of industrial by-products, RAP and additives to reduce the production temperature. Three types of asphalt mixes are being developed: Asphalt Concrete (AC), Porous Asphalt (PA) and Very Thin Layer Asphalt Concrete (BBTM).
Concerning the WP5, in order to carry out the development of asphalt pavements more resilient to climate change and freight corridors, several activities have already been done, such as the searching of current and future traffic and climate data to be used as inputs for the pavement performance prediction tool. Besides, the simulation of the lifecycle deterioration of asphalt pavement will also take into account the impact of Climate Change, in order to assess the resilience of the DURABROADS asphalt mixes to variations in air temperature, wind and solar radiation. For the projection of these variables, two Climate Change scenarios are being considered: RCP4.5 and RCP8.5.
In this reporting period, the quantification of the environmental and economic impacts of the new asphalt pavements is also in progress. The LCA analysis has focused on a method that enable to build up a dynamic LCA model for six scenarios in which it is possible simulate the different road system activities during a specific time period in order to determine the case which has the lowest environmental impact. Besides, the LCCA analyses that six scenarios comparing them with a base case scenario to obtain the net present value of construction costs, maintenance and relaying costs, total life cycle cost, equivalent annual cost and the savings to investment ratio.
Also the project has been actively disseminated. Thus, the project has been promoted through specialised publications (6), international conferences and seminars (9) newsletters, social media and communication materials. Moreover, a dedicated website has been developed with the objective to offer the visitor an easy to use and regularly updated tool to obtain detailed information about the project.
Finally, and as established by the Work Programme, coordination and research actions have been carried out with researchers from the FHWA, including: coordination meetings, organization of US/EU twinning events, exchange of best practices regarding RAP, laboratory characterization of the DURABROADS bitumen according to US standards, laboratory characterization of a high quality PG bitumen according to EU standards and comparison of US and EU asphalt mixes testing, among others. The development and characterization of superpave asphalt mixes with the DURABROADS bitumen is planned for the following months.

Potential Impact:
The main expected results can be summarised as follows:
- Development of a multi-criteria decision making model for the adoption by road authorities of the best materials and technologies.
- Analysis of existing constraints concerning current road materials and construction and maintenance procedures to cope with climate change challenges.
- Identification of best practices according to technical, environmental, economic and social criteria.
- Nanotechnology modified bitumen with enhance properties.
- Greener and durable WMA improved with nanotechnology and with high RAP and by-products percentage.
- Greener and durable Long-life pavements sections designed to cover different climate conditions and traffic loads.
- Concrete proposals to establish ecological criteria in road construction Green Public Procurement processes.
Many positive impacts on innovation, growth and sustainability in the asphalt sector are expected as a consequence of the implementation of DURABROADS actions:
- Increase the cost-efficiency of the road sector. The optimal selection of materials and technologies and the increase in durability and resilience, and possibly even the eco-friendly aspects of the developed asphalt mixes and pavements will result in: 1) reduction of maintenance and rehabilitation costs and also of traffic disruption and 2) reduction of natural aggregates and energy consumption and the associated costs.
- Contribution to the climate change adaptation policy of the EU by reducing the carbon footprint within the road sector.
- The reduction of GHG emissions along with the decrease of resource intensity are benefits of the project also in accordance with the aims of Europe 2020 flagship “Resource-efficient Europe” that intends to support the shift towards a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy.
- Contribution to the Green Economy by creating markets for environmentally friendly products.
This project, co-funded within the framework of FP7 the dedicated financial toll of the European Union for Research & Development initiatives, is currently carried out by a multi-disciplinary consortium combining research centers, leading infrastructure companies, SMEs or European Associations: University of Cantabria (Spain), Acciona Infraestructuras S.A (Spain), Fraunhofer (Germany), Institute for Transport Sciences (Hungary), European Road Federation (Belgium), Tecnalia Research and Innovation (Spain), Norwegian Graphite (Norway), BSRIA (UK) and Inzenierbuve Ltd (Latvia).

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