Potholes continue to blight the nation’s roads and pose a danger for motorists – but Highways England is hoping to combat them in a revolutionary new way.
The organisation has teamed up with the Manchester-based Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) with a view to using this material to create the road surfaces of the future.
Using science to improve the roads
Experts want to know if adding graphene during renewals operations could extend the life of existing Tarmac and completely change the face of the industry.
If it can be put to use, the result could be longer-lasting road surfaces, reduced need for the everlasting roadworks that seem to grace some stretches of our highways network, and lower rates of insurance claims through not as many vehicles getting damaged.
First isolated at the University of Manchester in 2004, graphene is the world’s first two-dimensional material. A million times thinner than a human hair, it also manages to be stronger than steel and more conductive than copper.
This last point suggests it could even have a future in helping to create digital, ‘intelligent’ roads.
“We are really excited about the opportunity to explore leading-edge materials and what this might lead to for our road network,” said Highways England’s Paul Doney.
It comes after the Commons Transport Select Committee called the state of England’s roads a “national scandal”.
Heather Stark, brand manager at The Fuelcard People, comments: “We know just how sick drivers are of having their cars damaged by potholes, so let’s hope this research comes to fruition and the benefits of graphene can be exploited sooner rather than later.”