Michigan Tech Experimental Pavement Mix Put Down For Testing

A Michigan Technological University (MTU) research project is testing new crumb rubber pavement mixes that could eventually change the makeup of asphalt in Michigan’s roads.

Pavement laid on sections of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP) roads this summer containing a tire-derived crumb rubber asphalt mix is being tested as part of a research project at MTU.

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The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and other agencies have awarded MichiganTech about $2.5 million in funds for research projects to test the performance and environmental aspects of the mix.

One study, led by the chairman of Tech’s civil and environmental engineering department, is examining whether the crumb rubber asphalt can be produced without exceeding emissions quality standards.

According to the department, full-scale tests have been completed and preliminary results indicate the crumb asphalt should meet the standards.

Another phase of the research project, led by Tech Transportation and engineering professor Zhanping You involves improving the crumb rubber asphalt mix with a foaming agent that lubricates the mixture and absorbs some chemical emissions and odors, and testing asphalt mixes for performance.

This pavement mix project was tested on the Upper Peninsula’s Mohawk Gay Road in July.

You has been working with asphalt mixes for nearly a decade, and the Mohawk-Gay project is a real-world test for the mix, that researchers say could eventually be recommended to the state for approval with sections made from crumb rubber asphalt shipped at two different temperatures.

You said his team is confident in the asphalt mixture’s performance based on lab experiments that measure things like the tensile strength, the ability to withstand rutting and water sensitivity, and they said the road tests should provide further proof under real-world conditions.

The Mohawk-Gay Road paving will also show whether scaling up production will cause any unforeseen problems for paving crews.

“It demonstrates how easy or difficult it is to do for the contractor,” You said.

In all, the project has three segments of paves. There is a low volume super pavement of the first 2.2 miles, and the remaining 1.6 miles to 1.5 miles is crumb rubber asphalt.

© Scrap Tire News, September 2015