Make the Future with Coloured Asphalt
Sep 10, 2018
This past July, Shell Bitumen presented its Shell Mexphalte C binder for coloured asphalt tunnel at the Make the Future Live annual festival in London. Make the Future Live is a space for some of the smartest thinkers and most curious minds that attracts students, entrepreneurs and industries to explore what a lower-carbon energy future might look like.
For roads for positive change
The new technologies displayed at the festival highlighted the need and demand for a more efficient use of resources, from low emissions transport technology to new fuels. The tunnel by Shell Bitumen used the concept of a light-coloured asphalt that can be designed to lighten road surfaces without the need for sharp artificial lighting. In tunnels where this product has been used, it has been proved that a light-coloured asphalt can increase contrast to the human eye making cars and obstacles more visible, whilst also using up to 40% less energy in the form of artificial lighting.
The story of coloured asphalt, or Shell Mexphalte C as we know it now, began in 1967 with the development of the world’s first synthetic binder, Shell Colouradd, that enabled users to pave roads and other surfaces with durable colour. Over fifty years later, Shell Mexphalte C has been used in a multitude of projects and applications all over the world; from bus lanes in Australia and the UK, to cycle lanes in the Netherlands and tunnels in Switzerland.
With over 3.6 billion of the world’s population living in cities, the durability of road infrastructure has never been more important. Every week we build a new city of over 1.4 million people — this number is only set to grow as the Shell and Centre of Liveable Cities’ joint study ‘New Lenses on Future Cities’ found that at our current growth rate, the world’s population will increase to nine billion by 2050, with 6.3 billion living in cities.
This pace of growth comes with an impact and to manage this new reality of urbanisation, city administrators need to rethink their approach in urban design and mobility. That’s why we are seeing exciting new solutions such as in China where bike-sharing and bus rapid transit are being implemented alongside underground metro systems and high-speed rail, while in Singapore, the government is encouraging people to use more public transport like metro systems and buses.
We must also think hard about how bitumen and new paving solutions can play a role too. After all, it’s up to every industry to bring their best thinking to the table. That’s where the power and possibilities of colour come into action. A coloured asphalt solution has been proven to be a superior alternative to painted or black asphalt surfaces, enabling the colour-matching of pavements to the local environment, as well as improving safety due to higher contrast. The workability, durability, and most of all, the flexibility of Shell Mexphalte C enables contractors to customise both the colours and the asphalt mixture needed for each project, while also opening roads quicker to traffic compared to conventional hot mix asphalt.
That’s why Shell Mexphalte C has been applied in a wide range of locations. From parks and squares to sports venues and stadiums, everyday users of these spaces greatly benefited from harmonisation of the pavement into its surroundings, as well as improved safety. The coloured asphalt tunnel as seen at Make the Future Live festival demonstrates the possibilities of these new technologies, moving us closer to a lower-carbon energy future.
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