In October 2018 Eurovia, a VINCI Group subsidiary, unveiled the world’s first “100% recycled” road. The secret to the innovation is in a very special machine…
Instead of using a virgin mix from quarries, Eurovia recovers used asphalt from “road planning” and recycles it.The first “100% recycled” road – in fact made from 98% recycled materials - was laid in October 2018 by Eurovia on a 1 km section of the A10 motorway, between Pons and Saint-Aubin-de-Blaye in the Gironde department. An innovation made possible thanks to the design, in partnership with Marini-Ermont (a Fayat Group subsidiary), of a strange machine: a mobile surfacing recycling plant.
The raw material in road-making is a mixture of gravel, sand and binder containing bitumen, tar, or both, that is applied in several layers to form the road surface.
Instead of the usual practice of producing virgin mixes from quarries, Eurovia is innovating by recovering the used surfacing material produced by road planing (removing the upper layers of the road surface) and recycling it using its machine. The resulting asphalt aggregate can be used on road building and maintenance works.
As this recycling plant is mobile, it can be deployed on large-scale maintenance projects (motorways or national roads) where there is a significant concentration of potential surfacing materials.
Planed material can for example be directly reused as a new surface layer, which not only reduces the use of natural resources, but also truck journeys - thereby further reducing the carbon footprint on road repair works.
Pushing the boundaries of technologyEurovia faced a number of challenges before successfully launching its "100% recycled" road, including pushing the recycling rate limits of the current mobile surfacing units (which have a ceiling of 50%) to 100%.
Eurovia also had to develop an economically competitive solution in compliance with current specifications and standards, offer the same performance as a new mix, and at the same time substantially reduce the environmental footprint!
This earned the project its win in the "Road of the Future" call for projects, organized by ADEME as part of its Investments for the Future Program, which aims to develop "innovative and ambitious" industrial solutions to reduce the environmental impact of road infrastructure.
Other winners include the "positive energy" road, a project also coordinated by Eurovia, which captures the energy produced by the summer heat to help heat private buildings and public facilities.
The road of the future will be made of recycled or bio-sourced materials (such as microalgae). It will adapt to weather conditions, be able to self-diagnose - even self-repair - and provide a number of services such as energy production, rainwater storage and even produce information for drivers.
In short, the road of the future will be smart, will communicate and will be part of the circular economy!
Main picture © Getty Images