A significant step towards cheaper and more durable roads

News date: February 23, 2021
A significant step towards cheaper and more durable roads

The research works under the project “Optimizing the asphalt paving of roads through the use of modified asphalt” have been completed. The results show that the developed concepts of road construction with the Highly Modified Asphalt (HiMA) allow the construction of more durable and cheaper roads. Including this technology in the “Catalogue of Typical Flexible and Semi-rigid Pavements” will make it more accessible to road designers and contractors. This is a new chapter in the development of roads in Poland.


In October 2019, Gdańsk University of Technology together with Warsaw University of Technology, the Road and Bridge Research Institute in Warsaw and Budimex, the LOTOS Group and ORLEN Asfalt signed an agreement for the implementation of the research project: “Optimizing the asphalt paving of roads through the use of modified asphalt”.


The extensive research works conducted over more than a dozen months have been successful. The consortium of producers and scientists confirmed the positive impact of highly modified asphalts, the so-called HiMA asphalts, on the functional properties and the fatigue life of the road surface. During the project, a proposal for new requirements for mineral-asphalt blends used in foundations was prepared, the costs for road construction, maintenance and operation were estimated, and the environmental impact indicators for the asphalt surface involving the use of the HiMA asphalt were identified. It has been demonstrated that the proposed solutions significantly increase the life cycle of the road surface and reduce the costs of building and maintaining roads.


“The work carried out included laboratory research, using the latest developments and advanced research procedures for mineral-asphalt blends,” says Professor Piotr Jaskuła from Gdańsk University of Technology, leader of the scientific consortium implementing the project. “Based on the results of laboratory tests, the analyses carried out have confirmed a significant increase in surface durability and the improved resistance to climatic and stress factors in a designed surface based on HiMA asphalt in the asphalt foundation. The road surfaces are able to take up substantially more road traffic than typical surfaces, which will allow them to be exploited for longer than typical ones. The extended durability of asphalt surfaces can be extended by up to 50 years. The new surfaces with an asphalt foundation based on the HiMA asphalt can be used in the design of main transit road surfaces in non-urban and urban areas. The advantage of the new solutions is to limit the renovation and maintenance works to the top layers of surfaces only, without the need to interfere with the asphalt foundation. “This will significantly reduce the cost of maintaining roads, reduce traffic congestion and improve road user safety,” adds Professor Piotr Jaskuła.


“LOTOS Asfalt, through the introduction of new-generation asphalt products, has for years been actively contributing to the development of road transport and to the improvement of the sustainability and quality of roads. It is therefore natural that representatives of our company participate in such an important project. This is a model example of collaboration between the academic community and the business world, allowing the development of specific recommendations. The research has shown that, thanks to the broad scope of application of highly modified asphalts, the road infrastructure both in Poland and elsewhere in the world can gain new structural and material solutions beneficial not only for investors and contractors, but also for road users,” adds Cezary Godziuk, President of the Management Board of LOTOS Asfalt.


The project now enters the next stage. “Over the coming months Budimex and its partners plan to prepare a test section of the road using the solutions proposed in the study. We count on our partnership with the Investor. The use of the new technology can generate savings on the maintenance of new roads,” says Artur Popko, Vice-President of Budimex SA.


The final result of the study are data sheets containing ready-made solutions for the design of vulnerable surfaces with the use of HiMA asphalts. They will be included in the “Catalogue of Typical Flexible and Semi-rigid Pavements” of 2014, which is widely used by road designers to aid in choosing the right technological solutions. To this end, the data sheets together with the study reports will be forwarded to the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways (GDDKiA).


“ORLEN Asfalt actively promotes the highly modified asphalts as a solution to improve the durability and quality of asphalt surfaces in Poland. The cooperation between business and science enables us to take another step towards the development of innovative road technologies. We hope that the further popularisation of solutions using HiMA asphalt also benefits the further development of our business,” says Marek Pietrzak, President of ORLEN Asfalt.


The catalogue contains solutions accepted by the GDDKiA, but the designs described so far have been based on (non-modified) road asphalts and asphalts modified with a classic amount of polymer. The addition of new data sheets should translate into the affordability and universality of the use of highly modified HiMA asphalts, among designers and contractors.