The Next Revolution in Transport? Roads That Heal Themselves

Roads of tomorrow will rejuvenate themselves.

5. 14. 17 by Tom Ward
shutterstock
Image by shutterstock

Recently, developers at Delft University have developed a steel-infused asphalt that can be heated to get rid of potholes, cracks and loose stones, thereby saving millions on road repairs. The technology works by adding steel wool to bitumin, the binding agent that asphalt usually uses to hold the tiny stones together

Christopher Schlangen, a PhD student at Deflt University, has shown that if asphalt that contains these steel fibers is heated using an induction machine, the bitumin melts and therefore cracks and potholes rejoin. This could double their lifespan. Although he uses a microwave rather than an induction machine in the TED Talk below, its enough to show you the premise.

The potential to heal roads has a multitude of positive consequences. Firstly, there are the economic impacts: Schlangen estimates that the Dutch government could save 9 million by implementing his roads, despite the 25% more money they require to install.

In addition to this, self-healing roads would mean fewer loose stones to flick up and chip windscreens, fewer potholes to damage axles or wheels, and fewer roads being closed for repair.

Advertisement

Although he is focusing on a means of perfecting his healing formula, Schlangen envisages a possible future use: charging cars at traffic lights. He said that “putting steel fibers in the asphalt means that you can send information to it, so it might be possible to charge electric cars on the road they’re driving on.

These discoveries are similar to recent developments made in self-healing concrete by Cardiff University. Their project involves using bacteria to create self-healing concrete, according to the same principles as bone remineralization.


Care about supporting clean energy adoption? Find out how much money (and planet!) you could save by switching to solar power at UnderstandSolar.com. By signing up through this link, Futurism.com may receive a small commission.

Share This Article

Keep up.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter to keep in touch with the subjects shaping our future.
I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its User Agreement and Privacy Policy

Advertisement

Copyright ©, Camden Media Inc All Rights Reserved. See our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Data Use Policy. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with prior written permission of Futurism. Fonts by Typekit and Monotype.