Amey has announced it is working in collaboration with Kent County Council and Iterchimica to trial the use of Gipave, an asphalt supermodifier, on Kent roads.

Working with the Italian asphalt additives specialist Iterchimica, the trial will be taking place as part of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) Smart Places Live Labs programme funded by the Department for Transport.

The trial will involve resurfacing an existing road on East Hill, Dartford, with the new Gipave asphalt product, which will bring many benefits to the local authority.  It will extend the life cycle of the asset, reduce the costs and requirement for maintenance, as well as reducing carbon emissions and the amount of disruption to road users through limiting the amount of road works taking place. Moreover, in addition to the recycling of selected waste plastics, the asphalt containing Gipave can be entirely recycled.

Gipave is a polymeric supermodifier containing graphene and a selected type of hard plastic. It has been used in trials of asphalt resurfacing at many sites in Italy including a number of roads and airport runways. The product, developed by Iterchimica, is the result of a three-year research program in collaboration with Directa Plus, G.Eco and the University of Milano Bicocca. The graphene used in the new supermodifier is produced by Directa Plus, one of the world’s main producer and supplier of graphene-based products.

Giles Perkins, Programme Director for the ADEPT Live Labs initiative said: “It’s fantastic to see our Live Labs delivering on the ground despite Covid-19. These have been very challenging times, but we’ve seen Kent and our other teams not only adapt to keep their programmes running but innovate further using the crisis as a catalyst for change.”

David Ogden, Business Director at Amey, said: “We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to provide best value for our customers and their communities, so we’re delighted to be working with Iterchimica and our client, Kent County Council to trial this new product as part of our Live Labs programme.

“Using this technology as part of our maintenance programmes could see us create more durable asphalt that could improve customer safety, the lifespan of our roads, as well as reducing impacts on journey time which brings with it many environmental and carbon reduction benefits.”

Federica Giannattasio, CEO of Iterchimica, said: “We are proud of working together with Kent County Council and Amey on this trial, which allows us to assess the effectiveness of graphene-enhanced asphalt pavements. Gipave, enhanced by G+ graphene produced by our partner Directa Plus, is an innovative technology that allows to obtain longer-lasting, high-tech, sustainable and 100% recyclable asphalt pavements. Moreover, we are confident that it will represent a technological breakthrough also for the purposes of maintenance and new construction works, generating environmental and economic benefits.”

“Starting from this year, the new manufacturing plant allows us to begin selling a product that achieves the goals set out by the Green and Circular Economy, as well as those related to the UN Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement (2015).”

KCC Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport Michael Payne said: “We’ll be trialling 350m of this new material on East Hill in Dartford, alongside a further 350m with traditional surfacing, and we very much look forward to seeing the results.

“Work will start today (June 25) and we’ll be laying it on the western side which we’ve chosen to give the material a rigorous test due to the nature of the road layout and gradient.

“Once work is complete on July 2, we’ll be closely monitoring the scheme to see how it holds up against traffic, the summer and the winter weather. We will also be carrying out laboratory testing to have a comparison against traditional materials.”

Giulio Cesareo, Chief Executive of Directa Plus, said: “Directa’s vision is to use graphene technology to enhance existing products, to provide better outcomes for end users. Gipave is an excellent example of the products Directa produces, it allows for stronger, more durable road surfaces, and is fully recyclable. The wide adoption of Gipave road surfaces will reduce the long term financial and environmental costs of road construction for drivers and local governments alike.”

This trial forms part of the ADEPT Live Labs project in Kent and is one of many trails of key innovations taking place that will enable highways staff to make intelligent operational decisions based on machine learning and data science analytics.

ADEPT represents local authority, county, unitary and metropolitan Directors. The ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs programme is a two-year £22.9 million project funded by the Department for Transport and supported by project partners SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, EY, Kier, O2, Ringway and WSP. Nine local authorities are working on projects to introduce digital innovation across SMART mobility, transport, highways, maintenance, data, energy and communications. Live Labs is part of ADEPT’s SMART Places programme to support the use of digital technology in place-based services.

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