Last edited 03 May 2021

Bitumen binder may delay road surface deterioration



[edit] Introduction

A bitumen binder made from a blend of materials may help increase the life of road surfaces. The product, Styrelf Long Life, is made by TOTAL UK. It is being mixed with asphalt in a trial being conducted on a section of the A43 near Silverstone in Northamptonshire. The test is being overseen by Highways England with support from Tarmac. The trial began in April 2021 and is expected to last up to 15 years.

[edit] Product information

Styrelf Long Life is formulated to make road surfaces more resistant to the elements. Roads made from Styrelf oxidise at a slower rate and so should stay flexible and crack-free for longer periods of time. It offers high elastic recovery and withstands repeated loading to provide resistance from wear.

It is a polymer-modified binder (PMB) bitumen that is produced by cross linking bitumen and thermoplastic elastomers. This results in an in-situ, three-dimensional polymer bitumen matrix with a homogenous microstructure suitable for extreme environments.

Styrelf has been tested in the laboratories of TOTAL, at Tarmac’s site in Elstow in Bedfordshire and on sections of road in The Netherlands and Germany. The A43 trial is the first time it has been used with high traffic levels in the UK.

[edit] Environmental aspects

By helping to slow the need for frequent repairs and maintenance, the Styrelf treated surfaces could help cut carbon emissions by reducing the demand for replacement materials - as well as the disruption of traffic. TOTAL estimates that getting the asphalt required to resurface a mile of single lane carriageway - not including transport to site and working with it - can produce up to 26.5 tonnes of CO2.

Technical experts from TOTAL will regularly measure the performance of the material against an equivalent control section put in place at the same time on the A43. Test results will be evaluated before its use is considered elsewhere in the country.

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