British company Tarmac, has developed a new asphalt technology that can be used to make rubberized asphalt from end-of-life tyres (ELTs). There are as many as 40 million waste tires which end up on the scarp heap every year in the UK. Tarmac’s new technology can be used to create an innovative asphalt mix comprising granulated rubber. According to the company, using the technology makes it possible to recycle and reuse up to 750 waste tires for every kilometer of highway that is surfaced with the new material. The amount of rubber that is used for each stretch of the road can vary depending on the road’s thickness. The company stated that the average ratio would be about one tire for each ton of asphalt.
In addition to the environmental benefits that are linked with incorporating rubber in asphalt, Tarmac’s technical director, Brian Kent, said in an interview to Autocar UK that the capacity of rubber to absorb movement can help reduce the risk of roads cracking.
Generally, the total cost of rubberizing asphalt is higher though Tarmac’s new technology is more sustainable than current processes. The cost of securing, breaking down the tire into its constituent components and mixing the rubber with the asphalt offsets any reduction in cost obtained as a result of using the waste material.
Currently, Tarmac recycles 8.7 million tons of waste from other industries on an annual basis and this includes the use of waste tires to fuel cement kilns.
The development of the new technology is part of Tarmac’s commitment to the circular economy, builds on the company’s reuse of waste tires to power its cement kilns and its commitment as a net user of waste.
Brian Kent, technical director at Tarmac, said: “While plastic recycling has attracted media headlines, used tires remain a significant and overlooked waste stream and our new innovative rubber modified asphalts offer a more sustainable option for our industry and the environment.
While rubber is used in asphalt across the US, but UK lacks the industrial infrastructure that is needed to facilitate the manufacture of this type of material. With the country now making major investment in the development of a strategic road network, Tarmac has identified an opportunity to leverage this technology. As part of its recent trials of the new material, Tarmac supplied asphalt with rubber in Coventry.
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