A paper industry waste material makes roads more weather resistant and flexible
Spotted: There are roughly 70 million kilometres of road worldwide. Most roads are made using oil-based bitumen to bind the small pieces of crushed materials together. Maintaining and repairing such an extensive network currently involves trucking in new materials to fill holes and cracks on heavy duty construction vehicles. All of this combines to make roads significant polluters.
That may be changing soon, thanks to Norwegian startup Carbon Crusher. Using dedicated machinery and a paper industry byproduct, the company has developed a carbon negative road repair process. This new process recycles the old road surface by scraping off the top layer and crushing it. Carbon Crusher’s machine greatly reduces the size of the pieces of road, which, when bonded together with lignin (a natural byproduct of the paper industry), create a more flexible, sustainable surface.
By scraping off the entire road surface and crushing it small enough for reuse in smooth, uniform application, Carbon Crusher eliminates the need to bring in new materials to fill previous surface damage. Lignin’s flexibility also helps reduce long-term maintenance costs as roads become more resilient and strong.
Carbon Crusher is currenlty focusing on developing its equipment and the roads themselves. Yet future plans include making roads act as chargers for electric vehicles. Moreover, further reductions in time and resource cost could be achieved by making the machinery autonomous and hydrogen powered.
Several innovators are seeking ways to make wheeled transport smarter and more efficient. Recent innovations spotted by Springwise include new methods for turning roads into power generators and connected bike helmets that keep riders and drivers safer.
Written by: Keely Khoury