Keeping roads in good shape reduces greenhouse gas emissions, Rutgers-led study finds

January 15, 2019

Keeping road pavement in good shape saves money and energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, more than offsetting pollution generated during road construction, according to a Rutgers-led study.

The study appears in the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation.

The researchers found that extending the life of pavement through preventive maintenance can reduce greenhouse gases by up to 2 percent; transportation agencies can cut spending by 10 percent to 30 percent; and drivers can save about 2 percent to 5 percent in fuel consumption, tire wear, vehicle repair and maintenance costs because of smoother surfaces.

The research will help transportation agencies choose appropriate maintenance strategies that consider environmental impacts in decision-making.

"When pavement is in its early failure stage, preventive maintenance can restore performance and extend pavement life with lower costs," said study lead author Hao Wang, an associate professor who focuses on infrastructure engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. "Pavement preservation leads to significant environmental benefits due to the improved surface condition, which results in smooth pavement, saves energy and reduces user costs."

The transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide from cars, trucks and buses. The researchers used the long-term pavement performance (LTPP) database maintained by Federal Highway Administration of U.S. Department of Transportation to measure the environmental impact of roadway repairs, especially preserving asphalt pavement, in terms of carbon dioxide emissions linked to global warming.

The study used a full life-cycle approach to look at the carbon footprint of common ways to preserve pavement. Treatments include thin overlay (placing up to 2 inches of asphalt on roads), chip seal (spraying asphalt emulsion on pavement and laying aggregate), slurry seal (spreading a slurry over pavement) and crack seal (filling cracks with rubberized asphalt or polymer-modified asphalt with some filler).

The study found that thin overlay leads to the greatest overall reduction in carbon dioxide emissions - 2 percent - because of a large decrease in road roughness. The crack seal method led to the lowest emission reduction - 0.5 percent - but all preventive maintenance methods reduce emissions overall. The researchers further developed the life-cycle assessment tool for evaluating the environmental impact of roadway projects.

The study included researchers at the Rutgers School of Engineering and their collaborators at North Dakota State University and Al-Mustansiriyah University in Iraq.
-end-


Rutgers University

Related Engineering Articles from Brightsurf:

Re-engineering antibodies for COVID-19
Catholic University of America researcher uses 'in silico' analysis to fast-track passive immunity

Next frontier in bacterial engineering
A new technique overcomes a serious hurdle in the field of bacterial design and engineering.

COVID-19 and the role of tissue engineering
Tissue engineering has a unique set of tools and technologies for developing preventive strategies, diagnostics, and treatments that can play an important role during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Engineering the meniscus
Damage to the meniscus is common, but there remains an unmet need for improved restorative therapies that can overcome poor healing in the avascular regions.

Artificially engineering the intestine
Short bowel syndrome is a debilitating condition with few treatment options, and these treatments have limited efficacy.

Reverse engineering the fireworks of life
An interdisciplinary team of Princeton researchers has successfully reverse engineered the components and sequence of events that lead to microtubule branching.

New method for engineering metabolic pathways
Two approaches provide a faster way to create enzymes and analyze their reactions, leading to the design of more complex molecules.

Engineering for high-speed devices
A research team from the University of Delaware has developed cutting-edge technology for photonics devices that could enable faster communications between phones and computers.

Breakthrough in blood vessel engineering
Growing functional blood vessel networks is no easy task. Previously, other groups have made networks that span millimeters in size.

Next-gen batteries possible with new engineering approach
Dramatically longer-lasting, faster-charging and safer lithium metal batteries may be possible, according to Penn State research, recently published in Nature Energy.

Read More: Engineering News and Engineering Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.