Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Roads that repair themselves

By repairing ageing roads, self-healing asphalt can reduce the amount of time and money spent on maintenance, reduce traffic disruption and help improve road safety.
Roads that repair themselves
The EU-funded SHARP (Self healing asphalt for road pavements) project was established to develop an effective, sustainable and environmentally friendly self-healing system for asphalt pavements. Researchers therefore created a unique technology whereby an encapsulated rejuvenator within the asphalt mix is used as a healing agent.

When microcracks develop within the form, they encounter and open the capsule to release the rejuvenator, which then diffuses with the asphalt binder to seal the crack. Researchers successfully developed a method for encapsulating the rejuvenator, which can survive the thermal and mechanical stresses of the asphalt production process.

Rejuvenator encapsulation containing sodium alginate fibres was found to be a suitable mechanism for delivering the self-healing agent for the asphalt pavement self-healing system. Sodium alginate fibre is a natural polysaccharide from seaweed and formed the basis for the rejuvenator, delivery and triggering mechanism.

A microcapsule and fibre packing numerical model was created to determine the volume of microcapsules and fibres in the asphalt mix. A rejuvenator and aged asphalt model was also developed using MATLAB software.

The healing system was shown to be very good at repairing small damage in the form of microcracks. However, the repair of larger cracks or full failure of the asphalt was limited.

This challenge was resolved by combining rejuvenator encapsulation with an induction heating system to create a self-healing system that can enable rapid and effective repair of the asphalt. The approach is based on the idea that induction heating can repair the larger cracks in the asphalt, while the rejuvenator reinvigorates the aged binder.

SHARP represents a step forward in the field of self-healing asphalt pavements, generating new knowledge that can be applied to Europe’s road network and contributing to a revolution in road design and maintenance.

Related information

Keywords

Self-healing asphalt, SHARP, pavements, rejuvenator, sodium alginate fibre
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