Researchers at Purdue working to prevent potholes

Purdue University researchers are working to prevent pot holes. They're trying to design a new asphalt to make roads smoother.

Posted: Feb 3, 2020 4:24 PM
Updated: Feb 4, 2020 5:26 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Could potholes become a thing of the past? Purdue researchers are hoping to make it happen. 

"We are trying to find the ways to improve the cracking performance of asphalt mixtures,” said Researcher Reyhaneh Rahbar.

Rahbar leads several student research groups testing different asphalt mixtures, seeing how easy they crack.

"We know all potholes start with cracking,” said Rahbar. “So we want to improve the cracking behavior and cracking performance and asphalt mixtures."

The groups take field materials donated from different agencies including the Indiana Department of Transportation. They create different mixtures, compact the sample, then test it.

"Having a sample, putting the sample in the machine and then apply the load that simulates the traffic loading,” said Rahbar. “And see how fast or slow the sample cracks."

Rahbar said the asphalt materials used on roads today have recycling additives which cause cracking.

"Using recycling material makes our asphalt more brittle, less flexible and more susceptible to cracking,” said Rahbar.

As transportation evolves, Rahbar said, so should our roads.

"If you think about the length of the roads we have and the quality of the roads we really need to improve that,” said Rahbar.

Rahbar said researchers have seen some improvement with asphalt mixtures. She isn't sure how long it'll take before potholes are a thing of the past, but she's hopeful it'll be soon.

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