The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Friday, 05 October 2018 01:00cat

Future methods to address potholes

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Future methods to address potholes Future methods to address potholes

Nowadays, potholes are a phenomenon that engineering design tolerates. However, future projects will address the issue more efficiently.

Potholes are caused by structural failure of the road surface (usually asphalt) due to water in the underlying soil and traffic load. They usually begin as imperceptible microscopic cracks. Until today, the inability to predict when and where these holes will emerge has led to a passive confrontation. Particularly, the potholes are repaired after their appearance. In fact, more than 2 million potholes were repaired on UK roads at a cost of about $156 million in 2017. In addition, road repair expenses in England and Wales can reach up to $18.2 billion according to the Local Government Association.

In the future, with the usage of high accuracy techniques, it will be feasible to predict the location and time of the potholes occurrence and to face the problem as soon as possible. To prevent potholes expansion, vehicles will clean and repair the damaged parts of the road. In the meantime, methods that confront the issue and have already been evaluated by scientists are:

Road materials optimization

Scientists examine the development of new road materials that could reduce the number of potholes. The basic problem is that when cracks occur, the healing can last very long as typical asphalt is very viscous at normal temperatures. To accelerate this procedure, new materials (such as "self-healing" asphalt) are produced with the addition of the appropriate asphalt rejuvenators.

Infrared heating repair

The repair process can also be optimized. The traditional method to repair potholes is to fill them with boiling asphalt. However, if the weather is cold, the temperatute of the asphalt mixture falls significantly causing weaker bonds with the existing material. Thus, the repair is not reliable and has a high possibility of failure in the next months. To address this issue, engineers at Brunel University of London have developed the Controlled Pothole Repair System (CPRS). This system utilizes infrared heating to warm the road surface before making the repair. It is designed as to be portable and easily transported to sites. The teams states that their method can provide repairs that last longer and eventually make the road network safer than it is today.



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