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ICE rewards research into sustainable benefits of BBA asphalt for runways

Sumburgh airport

A paper focusing on the requirement to build durable, sustainable and low maintenance airfield infrastructure with reduced impact on the environment has won the Institution’s William Webb Prize for best paper in a journal.

Advantages claimed in the prize winning paper for BBA asphalt include a 15% reduction in material use over UK norms, long service life, recyclability, retexture- ability and low noise and reduced green house gas emissions.

The paper, UK airfield pavement design using French asphalts, was written by Colas Director Carl Fergusson, Colas Technical Development Manager John Richardson,  head of pavement design and asset management at AECOM Bachar Hakim and AECOM head of materials Iswandaru Widyatmoko.

The paper assessed the performance of French asphalt mixes, specifically the high friction BBA surface/binder course and EME2 base through laboratory testing. It included case studies on  Colas projects including laying BBA at Sumburgh Airport in the Shetlands in 2006, where BBA surfacing was first adopted in the UK.

Far greater rates of production are possible in a given time using BBA asphalt than Marshall Asphalt. This delivers great advantages to airport operators through resurfacing in limited runway possession periods between scheduled flights, together with enhanced safety benefits achieved through high early life friction characteristics.

Other benefits for airport operators include greater pavement strength and durability. BBA asphalt can be laid at thicknesses 15% less than Marshall Asphalt while providing equivalent strength, and therefore uses less aggregate and exhibits greater sustainability.

With the environment right at the top of the agenda, not only with the signing of the COP21 climate agreement but the deferral of a decision on siting of the third runway in the south east on environmental grounds, the paper demonstrates other significantb enefits to the environment from using  BBA surfacing.

“BBA in particular is commonly manufactured by using high output continuous mixer plants which are more fuel efficient than batching plants; this helps in preserving energy usage and the air quality,” the paper said.

“Shorter construction work  means less fuel consumption and less carbon emissions,” Fergusson said.

The paper can be read here