Oxfordshire County Council is carrying out the trial in North Street, Middle Barton, with its contractor Milestone Infrastructure and their partner Aggregate Industries to develop the use of Gipave – a Graphene Plus-enhanced asphalt.
Rigorous development and testing of the asphalt were undertaken by Aggregate Industries at its Research and Development at Hulland Ward in Derbyshire. This compared existing asphalt mixtures against the Gipave mix; to help drive forward this project.
North Street is the third Oxfordshire site to trial the innovative material. A 725-metre stretch of the road will be laid with Gipave, while an adjacent length of road will be resurfaced using conventional high performance asphalt, so that the two surfaces can be compared accurately.
It follows a successful pilot scheme in Curbridge in 2019 – the first use of the product in the UK – and a trial on Oxford’s Marsh Lane in March 2022.
Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “We know how important the quality of our roads is to our residents. That is why we’re delighted to be involved in this latest trial to see how we can make our residents’ money go further and make our road surfaces stay in good condition for longer.
“Innovation is at the heart of what our highway teams do, as we have shown with previous
Gipave trials and our recent event in Steventon where Milestone tested seven different pothole repair methods on the same road. Increasing the lifespan of road surfaces will reduce the need for resurfacing work, ease the burden on highways budgets, and cut carbon emissions for the life cycle of a stretch of road.”
Phil Raven, Head of Technical Design for Milestone on the Oxfordshire Contract, said: “This is another significant step to test the benefits that this innovative material can bring. As we look for new ways to reduce carbon emissions within highways maintenance, developing materials that last longer is an important part of Milestone’s plan towards achieving net zero by 2040.
“Not only can this lead to longer term carbon reduction, it has the potential to reduce disruption to road users and achieve long term savings for highway authorities. This trial project demonstrates the benefits of international industry collaboration with a highway authority that is committed to trialling new innovations.”
Neil Leake, National Technical Manager for Aggregate Industries’ Surfacing Solutions division, said: “We are always looking for innovative ways to improve a road's durability so it has been exciting to be part of these trials, especially from a research and development perspective.
“We have an established track record of developing low carbon products and we are looking forward to seeing how this technology can continue to support the drive towards a net zero future.”
Gipave, which has been developed by Iterchimica, also uses waste plastics which would not normally be recycled. Meanwhile the asphalt containing Gipave can itself be entirely recycled – promoting the ‘circular economy’ which reduces waste and the need for new materials.
Recent in-service testing and analysis of the original 2019 trial site showed the new asphalt material is forecast to increase the lifespan of the asphalt pavement by approximately 165 per cent compared to conventional resurfacing methods, with a corresponding carbon saving of 40 per cent over 20 years.
The Middle Barton scheme is a £450,000 resurfacing project which also includes kerb and drainage repairs. The scheme started on 17 July and is planned to last for four weeks.
The surfacing works are being carried out under full overnight road closures to reduce the disruption to road users and local businesses and residents.