Asphalt is a byproduct of oil production, and so is getting more expensive along with rising oil costs. A $5 million research project is looking for greener solutions.
"Most efforts to "green" transportation focus on car technology, but roads can also be revamped to reduce carbon emissions. A national effort to improve millions of miles of highways and streets seeks to make asphalt more eco-friendly and less expensive.
The Asphalt Research Consortium aims to increase the use of recycled materials and improve energy efficiency of asphalt, which makes up more than 90 percent of U.S. roads. Sand and other binder materials are being explored to make asphalt at the Modified Asphalt Research Center (MARC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"It has been a challenge to get the industry to look at this seriously just because our pavements have been performing relatively well and there have not been many complaints about failures," said Hussain Bahia, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, which is using $5 million for the studies."