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EcoLanes
Economical and Sustainable Pavement Infrastructure for Surface Transport

Infrastructure for surface transport will be developed using slip forming techniques based on existing asphalt laying equipment and steel fibre reinforced concrete. The new construction concept will reduce construction costs, time and energy consumption, minimise maintenance and make use of waste materials.

Tags: Road

Background

A massive and targeted investment is currently required for the rehabilitation and extension of the European surface transport infrastructure, to provide a system able to respond to the needs of the enlarged European Union (EU), for the benefit of the single market and economic and socio-economic integration. The attainment of these objectives can be facilitated if the construction and maintenance costs, as well as the production lead-times, of the surface infrastructure are minimised.

The main element of surface transport infrastructure is the pavement, which can be either asphalt or concrete. With increasing oil prices the future of asphalt pavements on deep foundations is less certain, due to cost as well as to political and environmental concerns, whereas concrete pavements appear to be more cost-effective than asphalt pavements, as they can reduce the foundation layers and decrease or eliminate the asphalt topping.

However, to provide a truly sustainable solution for concrete pavements, it is necessary to reduce the energy consumption during the production of concrete pavement. The main energy component of concrete pavements (from extraction of raw material through to the placement of the pavement) is the energy used for the manufacture of cement and steel reinforcement. The use of recycled materials appears to be a promising solution for reducing the energy consumption.

Objectives

EcoLanes’ main objectives are to develop, test and validate steel fibre reinforced concrete (SFRC) pavements that will contribute towards the strategic objectives of the thematic priority area of Sustainable Surface Transport. EcoLanes aims to reduce construction costs in the range of 10-20%, reduce construction time by 15% and energy consumption by up to 40%.

EcoLanes also aims to address EU societal and policy objectives, such as to improve the environmental impact with regard to emissions and noise, and improve the safety of the surface transport infrastructure.

New EU Member States and Candidate Countries have probably the greatest need and potential for new surface infrastructure and, hence, EcoLanes will also target the environments of a new Member State (Cyprus) and two Candidate Countries (Romania and Turkey).

Accelerated load tests performed at the ALT-Lira facility of the Technical University of Iasi
Accelerated load tests performed at the ALT-Lira facility of the Technical University of Iasi
Technical University of Iasi

Description of work

EcoLanes aims to integrate simplicity and innovation to ensure the timely and cost-effective implementation of its findings into the construction and maintenance of surface transport infrastructure. Three key research areas will be addressed to reach the EcoLanes objectives.

  1. Tyre recycling: Techniques and equipment will be developed for post-processing steel fibres extracted from tyres, to arrive at fibres suitable for incorporation in concrete.
  2. Concrete engineering: Development of steel fibre reinforced concrete (SFRC) mixes suitable for slip forming and roller compaction, which have reduced energy requirements and use recycled materials. Both industrial fibre reinforcement and fibres from recycled tyres will be used, as well as low energy cements, pulverised-fly-ash and recycled aggregates.
  3. Transport engineering: The concept of the long lasting, rigid road pavement (LLRRP), made of low energy concrete reinforced with steel fibres, will be developed and technically validated on a circular accelerated testing facility. Numerical analyses and parametric studies will be carried out to develop design models for LLRRPs.

Results

One of the expected results of EcoLanes is the development of fibre reinforcement obtained from waste tyres. This will have a positive effect on the European tyre recycling industry, which currently does not have a sustainable solution for the utilisation of the steel cord extracted from tyres.

Techniques and equipment will also be developed for mixing steel fibres into wet and dry concrete mixes. These will minimise the need for using conventional steel rebars and will therefore have a positive impact on the construction costs of concrete pavements.

The development of design models for LLRRP will effectively facilitate the utilisation of this new concept.

Furthermore, demonstration roads will be constructed in four European countries to validate the results of EcoLanes.

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