When people list their criticisms of the asphalt industry, a lack of innovation is often up there. And they do have a point. The average asphalt paving contractor in Boston is not going to take risks. They have tried and trusted methods. The way they do things has brought them success for many years. There is no reason for them to try something that is drastically different.
But if companies stop taking risks, it is very difficult to see any progress in the industry. And that is why the work of some asphalt paving contractors in Brookhaven is making news around the nation. People are very impressed with what these companies are doing. And they are hoping that will be the start of at trend that will continue in Boston and other parts of the country.
Using Cooler Asphalt Mixes
What the companies in Brookhaven are doing is using an asphalt mix that is a lot cooler. They are using a paving method that means they can work at night and in the fall months, when the temperatures are lower. Not only is working in those environments often more comfortable for workers, but it is better for the city in general.
The cooler mix they are using results in far less odor as compared to the warmer asphalt mixes. And that is great for those who live in the area or are walking by. They do not have to deal with that odor for months at a time.
What is the Difference?
When you look at a typical mix used by a road or driveway paving contractor in Boston, you will find that it is heated up to 350 degrees F. It is the typical way of doing things. But the mixes used by the company in Brookhaven are only heated to around 220 or 250 degrees F. The result is a much cooler mix.
The Federal Highway Administration even says the performance of this cooler mix is better than the warmer mix. At most, it is equal. It means there is a lot for companies to gain from using this technique. And they are certainly not going to lose any quality in their final product. It can be useful for driveway, road and highway projects around the nation.
The cost of heating up the material to a lower temperature is less than a typical heating process for asphalt mixes. But there is the issue of the warm mix costing around 88 cents per ton more than a hot mix. Companies will have to figure out whether the costs offset, or it ends up being an even higher cost, based on project figures. But it does appear this warm mix is a way forward.
The asphalt industry has to change. Even the best asphalt paving company in Boston knows they must evolve or they will be left behind. And with companies, government agencies and individual consumers demanding more, the need for change is even greater. Everyone wants better roads and driveways, more durability and cheaper projects. They also want companies to take green initiatives.
It will be interesting to see how the industry reacts to this collectively. It will have some growing pains, but we do expect to see a lot of change within the asphalt industry over the next five to ten years.