By hardening the streets and highways, trucks would use less fuel and save the planet on carbon emissions.
When you walk on a sandy beach, it takes more energy than walking on a sidewalk, because the weight of your body pushes towards the sand. It turns out that the same is true for vehicles that drive on highways.
“The weight creates a shallow indentation or deflection in the pavement. And it keeps me driving down a very shallow hill. "
Jeremy Gregory is a sustainability scientist at MIT. His team modeled how much energy could be saved, and greenhouse gases avoided, simply by hardening the nation's roads and highways.
And they found that hardening 10 percent of the nation's highways each year could prevent 440 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions over the next five decades, enough to offset half a percent of projected emissions from the transportation sector. during that period of time.
To put those emissions savings into context, that amount is equivalent to the amount of CO2 that would save the planet by keeping a trillion barrels of oil in the ground. Or growing seven billion trees, for a decade.
The results are in theTransportation Investigation Registry. [Hessam Azari Jafari, Jeremy Gregory, and Randolph Kirchain, Potential Contribution of Deflection-Induced Fuel Consumption to Greenhouse Gas Emissions].
As tohow harden the roads? Gregory says it could mix small amounts of synthetic fibers or carbon nanotubes into flooring materials. Or you could pave with cement-based concrete, which is stiffer than asphalt. (It's worth noting that the research was funded in part by the Portland Cement Association.)
This system could also be a way to reduce carbon emissions without some of the usual hurdles.
“Usually when it comes to reducing emissions in the transport sector, you are talking about changing policies related to vehicles and also driver behavior, which involves millions and millions of people, rather than changing the design. of our pavement ”.
Thousands of people work in transportation agencies and when it comes to modernizing our streets and highways, those agencies are where you could say that rubber meets the road.