Using Life Cycle Assessment to Optimize Pavement Crack-Mitigation
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Cracking is very common in areas having large variations in the daily temperatures and can cause large discomfort to the users. To improve the binder properties against cracking and rutting, researchers have studied for many years the behaviour of different binder additives such as polymers. It is quite complex, however, to decide on the benefits of a more expensive solution without looking at the long term performance. Life cycle assessment (LCA) studies can help to develop this long term perspective, linking performance to minimizing the overall energy consumption, use of resources and emissions. To demonstrate this, LCA of an unmodified and polymer modified asphalt pavement using a newly developed open LCA framework has been performed. It is shown how polymer modification for improved performance affects the energy consumption and emissions during the life cycle of a road. Furthermore, it is concluded that better understanding of the binder would lead to better optimized pavement design, hence reducing the energy consumption and emissions. A limit in terms of energy and emissions for the production of the polymer was also found which could help the polymer producers to improve their manufacturing processes, making them efficient enough to be beneficial from a pavement life cycle point of view. RILEM 2012.