Two Italian companies are working together on the use of ‘wonder material’ graphene as an additive for asphalt mixes, with a new product offering the potential to double the lifespan of road surfaces.
Directa Plus, a producer and supplier of graphene-based products for use in consumer and industrial markets, is collaborating with Iterchimica, an established producer and distributor of specialized asphalt additives.
The collaboration is focused on developing a graphene-enhanced additive that can significantly improve the durability and sustainability of traditional asphalt road surfaces. The new additive incorporating Directa’s Graphene Plus (G+) has been launched by Iterchimica as the patent-pending Eco Pave product.
Following the success of laboratory and small-scale trials, Iterchimica will now conduct a pilot test with an asphalt producer where Eco Pave will be used as an additive for asphalt covering several miles of road surface, with trials anticipated before the year end.
Graphene is an allotrope of carbon, consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a 2D hexagonal lattice, which was characterized and isolated in 2004. The presence of Directa’s G+ graphene blend produces a technically-advanced, sustainable additive that significantly enhances the performance of asphalt used for road surfacing. In particular, due to the thermal regulation properties of G+, the asphalt is less susceptible to hardening and cracking in cold temperatures, as well as to softening in warm temperatures. It increases the elasticity and strength to reduce the wear, particularly with high loads, which is especially beneficial for maintenance purposes, such as repairing potholes.
As an additional benefit, road surfaces built with asphalt containing Eco Pave will be recyclable with up to 100% of the milled asphalt being repeatedly reused to build a new pavement, which avoids the landfilling of the exhausted material, as well as the extraction of new bitumen.
Based on its research, Iterchimica estimates that the addition of Eco Pave will extend the life of an asphalt road surface from the current average of 6-7 years to 12-14 years. Due to the joint R&D process undertaken by Directa and Iterchimica, the parties have been able to produce Eco Pave at a commercially viable selling price, which will significantly reduce maintenance costs for local administrations.
“This super-additive containing Graphene Plus demonstrates that it is possible to create sustainable and highly-performance road surfaces,” explained Iterchimica’s CEO, Federica Giannattasio. “The next step is to partner with an organization that manages and builds roads to create the test routes that will validate the performance benefits of Eco Pave.”