Modern road engineering has always focused on two things—providing a visual reference for vehicles travelling a path and ensuring the mechanical integrity of those vehicles. Today, though, the transportation industry is changing. Technology is innovating everything about surfacing, from the materials and construction methods used to the reasons we create roads in the first place. Keep reading to know more about the role of tech in this industry.
Reducing the Environmental Footprint of Roads
The cement industry contributes eight percent of annual global carbon dioxide emissions, which is not surprising since concrete is the second most widely-used material in the world after water. Reducing carbon emissions is a primary goal for engineers and technicians; manufacturers are constantly researching ways to make these materials more environmentally friendly.
Australia is one of the countries contributing to research in the reduction of emissions in surfacing technology. In particular, Australia has led the way in the application of geopolymer concrete, which contributes little to no CO2 emissions.
According to the Australian think tank Beyond Zero Emissions, pavements and roads in Victoria, including parts of the Westgate Freeway, are now made of geopolymer concrete. In the future, hopefully, more states and areas will follow suit.
Reducing Noise Pollution on the Road
Noise pollution contributes significantly to stress of those who have to listen to it. It leads to increased heart rates and blood pressure, and it can also affect people’s concentration. Road noise can also bring property prices and values down.
Reducing noise pollution, even by just three decibels, can make a world of difference. In Australia-based trial runs of noise-reducing hot-mix asphalt, researchers found that traffic noise levels went down by as much as 35 percent.
This reduction is because this type of asphalt uses crumb rubber and modified polymer binders. Polymers make the material more porous, helping it absorb sound.
Roads as a Source of Electricity
In an exciting move, innovative product designers are considering streets as a potential component in creating complex energy grids. Australia has the world’s ninth-largest road network—it has 356,000 kilometres of paved roads, and the country’s Highway 1 is the world’s longest national highway.
These thousands of kilometres of road surface can be used to harness the sun’s energy and researchers and technicians are looking into creating electricity-generating solar panels for roads.
Sprayed Seals for High-Traffic Roads
Roads carry several thousand vehicles in a day. In Australia, there were 20.1 million registered motor vehicles as of January 2021, a 1.7 percent increase from the previous year. The country’s road system has approximately 810,000 kilometres of roads, and 330,000 kilometres of these have sprayed seals.
Sprayed seals are thin layers of bitumen and aggregate sprayed on pavements and road surfaces. This surface treatment is necessary for countries like Australia and New Zealand, and sparsely populated countries with large distances between cities and population centres.
KEE leads the way in spray sealing technology; our spray seal team is equipped with the first two Specialist Roading Equipment (SRE) telescoping sprayers in Western Australia. These sprayers have variable spray bars, enabling multiple application rates in a single run. This feature makes it easier for engineers to seal wheel paths and shoulders.
The surfacing industry is changing because of technological innovations. From reducing noise pollution and carbon emissions to ensuring the longevity of surfacing and roads, engineers and scientists keep devising new, efficient, and convenient methods of moving from Point A to Point B.
Every major road project in Perth has had KEE Surfacing as one of its partners. Our surfacing and construction hire workforce consists of bitumen and asphalt laying professionals, hand-picked for their skills, experience, and knowledge in delivering safe yet cutting-edge techniques. Contact us today for enquiries!