U.S. roads are aging and reaching the end of their service life, resulting in the need for constant repair. States with harsher winters often see more summer road construction, but new technology being developed at Purdue University could benefit concrete infrastructure everywhere.
This technology includes concrete sensors and self-healing concrete that could reduce summer road construction. The sensors are helping to better determine when concrete is strong enough to open up roadways to traffic after a construction project. Self-healing concrete allows concrete to seal its own cracks due to internal chemical reactions within the material.
The research currently applies to concrete, the most challenging road material to repair, but could resolve issues with asphalt and other road materials in the future.
Lu also directs the Center for Intelligent Infrastructure, which unites the expertise of Purdue researchers to integrate advanced theories and engineering principles to make infrastructure more sustainable, adaptive and autonomous.
Lu can speak on common issues involving pavement repair and how technologies including self-healing concrete and road sensors provide solutions to road construction.
QUOTE: “The sensor technology will help to understand the strength development of the concrete. Therefore, they can help to guide the traffic and we can understand when to open up the roadways to traffic.
“Most of the road repairs are for potholes, sealing the crack. The developed self-healing concrete not only seals the crack but you can also regain the strength of the property that can extend the service life of the pavement and roads.”
MORE INFORMATION: The sensor technology has been embedded into Indiana highways. California, Texas and Missouri also plan to implement the technology.
Lu is working with the Indiana Department of Transportation to implement the self-healing concrete technology into bridge slabs by 2021.
An Indiana road construction map is available via the Indiana Department of Transportation website.