Have you ever thought of how much energy it take for you to walk on a sandy beach when compared that with a walk on a concrete floor? If you can understand what I am saying here, then you can imagine basically what is happening when heavy duty trucks and cars are plying on the asphalt Edmonton roads. Researchers feel that if the existing roads could be made a little stiffer, the country would be saving much on the cost of fuel and also reducing the greenhouse gas emissions.
Engineers at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have discovered that when the pavement is stiffened, it cuts the use of fuel by a straight three per cent and that would translate into 270 million barrels of crude oil or an equivalent of almost fifteen billion dollars every year. They also estimate that greenhouse gas emissions through carbon monoxide will reduce by over 45 million metric tons annually. I live in Oregon and this figure accounts for more than the emissions from the fossil fuels that are burnt in this entire State.
Researchers explained that when car tires roll over pavements and roads which do not have proper traction, the pavement deflection will be highest behind the travel path. This is very much similar to driving up an exaggerated or a steep slope. When you walk on the beach sand and take a single step, your foot will tramp down the sand from your heel to the toe; similarly, the pedestrians will spend much energy if they walk on pavements that do not have a hard and stiff surface.
They suggested that an increase of even one per cent in the fuel consumption will be tough to bear on the roadways. The deflection under the car tires will be the same as the underfoot on beach sand. When you have stiffer pavements made out of improved materials and when you increase the thickness of the layers and switch to concrete and composite structures, it will decrease the deflection and also fuel consumption.
I was reading a science blog recently and came across a report which talked about nano-clay additions. This will be layers of mineral silicates. They will improve the resistance of the aggregate mixture and they will add to the stability of the pavements in the future.