Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Paving The Way For Green Roads

25.02.2008
Kevin Gardner sees green roads right around the corner. "A lot of the infrastructure in this country needs to be re-built," says Gardner, University of New Hampshire associate professor of civil engineering and director of the Environmental Research Group. "We have a real opportunity to re-build the infrastructure the right way with sustainable materials and socially sensitive designs that protect air, water, land, and human resources."

Funded by the Federal Highway Administration and pooled state highway funds, as well as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants for specific research projects, Gardner established the new Recycled Materials Resource Management Center (RMRC) at UNH on June 1, 2007. The RRMC is a collaboration between UNH environmental and social impact researchers and University Wisconsin-Madison geotechnical, or soil behavior, faculty.

Working closely with a board of advisors composed of representatives from the EPA, the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, as well as numerous other stakeholders, one of the Center's activities is to establish a green roads program that develops criteria for what makes a roadway green.

Similar to the green buildings program established by the U.S. Green Building Council, which triggered a boom in green building construction, a green roads program, it is believed, will give the green light to sweeping reforms in the way we build roads. The project is full of twists and turns. Today's urban sprawl requires road builders to confront a range of sensitive issues involving air, water, land, building materials, energy use, biodiversity, and social capital-an index of social productivity and quality of life.

To jump-start the process, the RMRC faculty teamed up with the UNH Stormwater Center in Durham. Their task is to account for both environmental and social impacts of road-building, as well as establish better uses of recycled and virgin aggregate materials, such as crushed rock, much of which must be transported from New Hampshire. Green standards, according to Gardner, will give road builders the guidelines they need to effectively reduce the environmental impacts (such as carbon footprint, wetlands disturbance, and stormwater runoff generation) and improve the quality of life in communities affected by infrastructure re-construction.

The first step is to figure out how to reduce the 300 million tons of virgin aggregate materials mined in this country every year. The U.S. currently recycles 90% of used asphalt, but still uses a large percentage of virgin materials in the recycled mix. The question is, can pavement be made with 90% recycled asphalt, or does it have to be less than 40% or even 20% to get a roadbed that lasts? What happens to the modifiers that bind these materials over time? How recyclable are the recycled materials?

"The cost of building a road is not reflected fully in the price of materials," Gardner adds. "The total cost of mining virgin materials, for instance, involves not only the cost of materials and labor, but also the environmental cost at the mining site, the environmental costs (such as air pollution and its associated health care costs) of transporting these materials to the building site, and the environmental costs of building the equipment to mine and transport material and build the roads."

To account for these hidden costs, the RMRC created a computer model that Gardner's Ph.D. student Alberta "Birdie" Carpenter uses to capture the full environmental, social and material costs of road-building. The model was recently "road-tested" in the Pittsburgh region to help identify the significant influence that materials recycling can have on regional air quality, hazardous waste generation, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts.

Research and development of better ways to re-build infrastructure is only half the battle. The other half is education and outreach to developers, road-builders, and engineering students. In addition to publishing and publicizing the results of their research and green roads standards, the RMRC is now offering a sustainable engineering class at UNH and expects to have fellowship and Ph.D. programs by 2010.

"The first green roads will probably start with small housing developments and municipalities because developers and local developers have already seen the benefits of green building construction," says Gardner, "but as the benefits and cost-savings begin to be realized on a bigger scale, we believe the RMRC green roads program will pave the way for rapid adaptation at all levels of road-building."

Debra JohnyBear | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unh.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Superconductivity research reveals potential new state of matter
17.08.2017 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

nachricht Spray-on electric rainbows: Making safer electrochromic inks
17.08.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gold shines through properties of nano biosensors

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>