National Highways is trialling the use of graphene within road surfacing materials.
The material, first discovered in Manchester, is expected to increase the operational life of the surface and is being tested on a three-mile stretch of carriageway in Northumberland.
Lab trials using graphene, a highly durable material made from just a single sheet of atoms arranged in a honeycomb structure, have proven to be a success so far. But use of the material on a major road will be a world-first.
Graeme Watt of national Highways said of the trial: “This is an exciting time for National Highways. We are constantly striving to improve the journeys of our customers and graphene has real potential to do that. ”
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He continued; “Laboratory trials have been a success and the on-site trials in Northumberland will be a world-first use of graphene in road production, which enforces our commitment to innovation and helps to push the industry towards more carbon-friendly maintenance with longer-lasting solutions which we all benefit from.
“Graphene’s benefits are industry-changing. It’s stronger than steel and adding it to other materials can turn them into super materials. From what we’ve seen so far, it could make some of our assets last significantly longer.”
The trial is being carried out in conjunction with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre at the University of Manchester and Pavement Testing Services - the university where graphene was originally created. Work on the carriageway in question began in September and is expected to conclude on the 3rd of November this year.
More details on the scheme can be found here.