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Life Cycle Assessment of Use of Recycled Materials in Asphalt Pavement

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Yongjian Huang, Roger Bird


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The vast majority of roads in the UK are paved with asphalt materials. Few such pavements last for more than 20 years without needing some degree of repair or reconstruction work using large volumes of quarried and bituminous materials. Use of recycled, in preference to raw, materials is commonplace. This has the dual sustainability benefits of reducing waste volume for disposal and reducing environmentally damaging extraction for aggregates. However recycling may increase the impact on the environment due to increased processing and transport requirements to get materials into reusable form and location. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a technique that quantifies the environmental aspects of a material across its life time from raw material acquisition, through production, use and final disposal. International standards regarding LCA have been issued (the ISO14040 series). This research uses LCA to quantify the relative environmental benefits of using recycled materials in asphalt pavement. Four candidate materials have been selected as aggregate substitute, or binder modifier, in surface course asphalt, namely glass, scrap tyre, plastic, and steel slag. These materials generally end up with disposal to landfill or ‘down-cycling’. Some LCA models and databases worldwide have been identified to support the research from which relevant, reliable and updated data can be obtained. To keep the study within manageable bounds, the scope of the study is limited to the production of asphalt surface course, and the study will only investigate the most significant of the environmental impacts (CO2, etc). This paper will review the relevance of LCA to the asphalt industry, identify the phases of asphalt production assessed as the most significant, and describe academic and industrial sources for relevant databases available to support the research. Examples of LCA analysis will be presented.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Huang Y, Bird RN

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Unknown

Conference Name: 37th Annual Conference, Universities’ Transport Study Group

Year of Conference: 2005

Pages: 7C2.1-12