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Innovative Self-Healing Asphalt

A new pavement type designed by Erik Schlangen is a “self-healing asphalt machine” to work against damage over time. It is a porous material that allows water to drain through the surfaces, run to the side of the road, or be routed into collection devices.  Due to its geometry, noise would disappear into the surface.

To create this self-healing asphalt, Eric started with steel wool, cutting small pieces of the material and inserting them into the asphalt mix. Induction-heating the mixture allows the steel wool to seep into the microcracks and create a stronger product.

The Dutch government took interest in Schlangen’s project and donated 400 meters of a major roadway for testing. Samples from the road were tested in the lab to find the effects of aging, loading, and environment. The samples were healed, then retested, and then healed again. It is estimated that the self-healing asphalt paving machine should be used on a road surface every four years to double the surface life of the road.

Another promising asphalt paving material out of the Netherlands is also “self-healing” and uses injected bacteria that activate if water leaks through cracks. The bacteria repairs and seals up the cracks by turning into limestone. Professor Henk Jonkers of Delft University of Technology pioneered the new materials and plans to call it “bioconcrete.”

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