Key Things You Need to Know About Low Temperature Asphalt

With today’s focus on environmental conservation and living greener lives, it is vitally important that the construction industry continues to innovate and improve carbon efficiency. 

Cutting the carbon emitted during the construction of infrastructure in the UK was a key target within the Government’s Construction 2025 Industrial Strategy as well as the Infrastructure Carbon Review. The UK has a large carbon footprint for asphalt manufacture – it is estimated to be 786,000 tonnes per year – and reducing the amount of carbon that is emitted throughout the construction of the highways in the UK is a priority. Low temperature asphalt is one alternative technology that can help cut carbon emissions in the UK and across the globe. Low temperature asphalt is beneficial for different stakeholders in the construction process, as well as the environment itself. Here we look a little deeper into low temperature asphalt and how it can make a difference. 

What is Low Temperature Asphalt?

Low temperature asphalt is different to the conventional hot mix asphalt. It is classified as warm, half-warm, or cold depending on its temperature. The materials used during the manufacturing process are modified during the procedure so that it is easier and more effective to mix and compact the asphalt at low temperatures. In particular, the way bitumen behaves is changed using the addition of additives or foam.

Using low temperature asphalt helps to minimise carbon emissions because the asphalt is manufactured at lower temperatures, therefore less energy is needed and less carbon is used to produce the energy.

How Much Carbon Can Be Saved?

The exact amount of carbon saved varies from plant to plant and depends on the construction process. However, it is estimated that producing asphalt at lower temperatures could result in a 25 percent reduction in the carbon footprint. The average carbon footprint for manufacturing high temperature asphalt is around 45kg per tonne of hot material. If the uptake of low temperature asphalt could be higher, the UK could possibly save up to 58,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.

Other Considerations with Low Temperature Carbon

Other factors also need to be taken into consideration when measuring how much carbon is saved and by how much the carbon footprint can be reduced. For example, the lifespan of the material needs to be considered, as well as the durability and the potential recyclability of the material. A product cannot be considered sustainable or useful in terms of reducing carbon if it is not fit for purpose and not durable or recyclable. There are many other approaches to take when looking at ways of making the road construction industry more sustainable, including the carbon efficiency of the road as a whole and the carbon efficiency of the machines used. Low temperature asphalt is available in the UK but it is not readily used – one of the challenges of improving carbon efficiency in the sector is to increase the uptake of technologies by demonstrating the benefits and features.




Image courtesy of dan /

Posted on 13 Jul 2015 in

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