November 19, 2018
Holiday travel: New technology paves the way for fewer orange barrels and safer, quicker road repairs
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Imagine a drive to grandma’s house or to work with fewer “left lane closed ahead” signs, fewer detour signs, fewer orange barrels and also safer travel near road crews. That may soon be possible with new technology from Purdue University researchers.
The Purdue team developed a method and equipment to more easily determine when chip sealed roadways can be returned to service.
This technology uses electrical resistance measurements to determine when the emulsified asphalt in a chip seal has sufficiently cured and can therefore withstand traffic without sustaining damage. Such real-time measurements help ensure that the road repairs are done correctly and more quickly than using current methods.
“Typical approaches to quantify emulsified asphalt-based chip seal curing times are varied and qualitative,” said John Haddock, a professor of civil engineering and the director of the Indiana Local Technical Assistance Program, who leads the research team. “Having a quantitative, real-time measurement method can help construction crews make good decisions that result in a quality chip seal project with minimal traffic disruption.”
According to the National Asphalt Pavement Association, the United States has more than 2.7 million miles of the paved roads and highways; asphalt-surfaced roads account for 94 percent of the roads.
Haddock said there are currently no good field techniques available to determine the achievement of sufficient mechanical strength to allow the return of traffic to recently chip sealed pavements.
Field personnel determine the sufficient curing of emulsified asphalts based on their experience. He said subjective determination of sufficient curing may shorten the pavement service life.
“Our equipment can help ensure quality of materials used on the project, prevent minimal windshield claims and chip seal repair work, prevent unnecessary construction delays, provide safety for the public and construction workers, and ensure a successful chip seal project,” Haddock said.
The timing and frequency of measurements with the Purdue technology are without limit. Field tests indicate that chip seal systems gain significant mechanical strength when the initial electrical resistance measurement increases by a factor of 10.
The work aligns with Purdue's Giant Leaps celebration, recognizing the university’s global advancements in sustainability as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary. This is one of the four themes of the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.
Researchers have worked with the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization to patent the technology. They seek partners to commercialize and extend the capacities of this technology.
About Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization
The Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at email@example.com. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University.