When it comes to the most exciting technology developments of the day, newspaper headlines are typically hogged by advancements in are as such as electronics, communication technology, and travel. Pretty neglected are the massive strides made in the world of asphalt paving. This is perhaps inevitable. After all, this is the type of technology that just needs to work – and when it works, people don’t notice. When it breaks down is when problems arise.
But innovative technology has done much to make all these problems – including asphalt repairs – much more effective (and cost-effective). The laying of asphalt has also been pretty revolutionized by quite recent technological developments. Most of all though, asphalt itself has developed a great deal.It is substance that can have a variable composition, and there are newer better “recipes” for providing asphalt which has the ability to withstand more damage, resist weathering for longer, and simply to provide a smoother, more durable, surface over which vehicles and pedestrians can move over hassle-free.
What is Asphalt?
To understand how asphalt and asphalt paving techniques have been improved, it is important to understand what asphalt most fundamentally is and how it is paved. Asphalt, like concrete, is a mixture of an aggregate and a binder. The binder traditionally hasas its main ingredienta black, crude oil-derivedsubstance known as bitumen. The aggregate is usually some form of crushed material.
When asphalt is laid, the binder is steamrolled into a flat surface of aggregate. The binder can penetrate all the spaces between the particles of aggregate, providing water resistance and an exceptionally smooth surface on top. There are typically multiple layers of differently composed aggregates into which the binder is pressed. Parking Lot Pros, paving experts out of Houston, Texas, say that it is precisely within this aspect that many new developments have been made within the asphalt paving sphere.
New Laying Techniques and Machinery
There is also the matter of how the asphalt is laid. Here too are new techniques being developed and new machinery being introduced. A lot of this technology revolves around sloping and grading.
To get the most perfectly flat surface, or to handle asphalt paving on a slope, there is recent technology such as motor graders, which can automatically calculate an ideal grade and communicate this electronically to the paver. The biggest advantage here is that this takes a great deal of human error out of the equation and makes the asphalt surface perfectly suited to the underlying topography.
There are also new digital diagnostic devices that can evaluate the quality of a sub-base and alert pavers to changes which might need to be made before asphalt can be effectively paved over that surface.
Asphalt Mixes and Sealcoating
Bitumen is the main component of asphalt binder, but it is not a terribly environmentally friendly substance. Accordingly, environmental changes that reduce the environmental impact of a paving job also make up a new frontier in asphalt paving technology.
On top of this, asphalt mixes which are better suited for particular environments and particular climactic conditions are also available these days. For example, there is such a thing as super cold mix asphaltfor paving in the winter or in cold climates, and there is asphalt specially created to withstand heat.
Sealcoating, which involves an extra layer over the top of an asphalt paved surface, also allows asphalt to withstand weathering and damage like it never has before.
New paving technology might not be an area of technology many pay attention to, but it is having nothing short of a revolutionary effect.