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Jens Kastner reports on the latest innovations in road pavement coatings, as the public and private sectors increasingly grow aware that these coatings present affordable solutions to major environmental problems.
Worldwide, coatings companies specialising in manufacturing road pavement surface coatings are experiencing tailwinds, as the public and private sectors increasingly grow aware that these coatings present affordable solutions to major environmental problems.
Removing fine dust causative substances
A South Korean pavement surface coating developed by Incheon-based start-up Jchi Global1, reduces the scattering of fine dust in the atmosphere – which the World Health Organisation (WHO) says causes seven million deaths-a-year worldwide from cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases (asthma, COPD), and more2.
“More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO guideline limits, with low- and middle-income countries suffering from the highest exposures, both indoors and outdoors,” said a WHO note. But when Jchi Global’s ‘X-hard’ sidewalk block is applied, a tobermorite photocatalyst layer is formed on the surface, which can not only strengthen the surface of a pavement block but also removes fine dust causative substances, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ammonia (NH3), because the photocatalyst technology triggers a catalytic reaction of hydroxyl radicals (OH) generated by receiving light.
JC Global claims that if this solution is applied on an area of 1000m2, it should help to reduce fine dust by 3.4kg per year, which is equivalent to the amount purified by 100 trees. X-hard is being sold at South Korean Won 500,000 won (US$400) per 18 litres. The base of X-hard is a concrete surface hardener, which JC Global claims to have a durability of more than 30 years.
Having gained designation as an innovative product by the Korean Public Procurement Service, JC Global is planning to launch X-hard in Singapore, the US, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Vietnam and is currently conducting proof of concept (POC) demonstration projects in India and Saudi Arabia.
“Fine dust, urban heat islands, and odour are common social problems, requiring nationwide eco-friendly technologies, with the demand for X-hard increasing according to national policy, such as the [South Korean] Green New Deal,” explained Oh Joo-myeong, Jchi Global’s CEO to PPCJ, referring to a policy announced in mid-2020 aimed to propel South Korea into a green economy.
“It became easier for us to convince local government environmental policy officials to recognise our technology after environmental measurement devices for data visualisation were installed on-site, verifying the effect of substance removal,” he added.
“Of course, putting on sunscreen before hitting the beach is much smarter than doing it after a period of unprotected exposure to the sunlight”Glen McCrady, Director of Pavement Coating Programmes at GAF Materials
Longer-lasting coatings with increased grip
Meanwhile, Sprendlingen, near Mainz, Germany-based Possehl Spezialbau has been supplying and applying its EP-GRIP3, a road and pavement coating that consists of epoxy resin, aggregate and pigments, on roads, airport runways, parking areas, parks, pedestrian zones and comparable areas in its home and neighbouring countries.
A Possehl Spezialbau note claimed that studies conducted by RWTH Aachen University (a technical higher education institution) prove that the product lasts at least five times longer than conventional pavement coatings made of cold plastic. The resulting increased grip in ice, snow and wet conditions minimises the effort required by local government winter services. This means a significant cost reduction for cities and municipalities.
“The technology continues to progress mainly through the resin becoming more elastic, which is a key improvement owing to asphalt also being elastic, unlike rigid concrete surfaces,” explained Michael Dirschedl, Possehl Spezialbau’s Director for Road Traffic and Aviation Surfaces.
“There is increasing demand for EP-GRIP also associated with a trend toward marking road sections that require slower driving with lighter colours than that of pure asphalt,” he added, reducing accident risks.
Combatting climate change and urban heat
In the US, Parsippany, New Jersey-based StreetBond, which is owned by building materials company GAF Materials, pitches its road and pavement surface coatings mainly as a tool for municipalities’ climate change and urban heat mitigation strategies. The increasing heat in urban habitats is a key topic for a sustainable and healthy way of life. According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the urban heat-island effect can raise temperatures by 5°C to 10°C.
Glen McCrady, Director of Pavement Coating Programmes at GAF Materials, told PPCJ that coatings were initially developed to stamp asphalt to make the material look like a brick road. The subsequent R&D then brought in pigments that increase solar reflectivity, while at the same time adding a protective layer to protect the asphalt binder from the effects of weathering and ageing.
“We have lately been seeing very serious heat event situations in the US and in Europe that turned into public health crises, so cities are keen to prevent surfaces from absorbing the sun’s energy rather than reflecting it,” said McCrady.
“Our technology focusses on reflecting the invisible parts of the light spectrum from ultraviolet to long infrared, because simply painting all roads white instead would expose our eyes to glare as if we were skiing without snow goggles,” he added.
StreetBond currently sells for about US$8/m2 application, which, said McCrady, is comparable to other products used for road maintenance work. While adoption has been centred on Los Angeles, McCrady sees heat reflective road coatings as a highly valuable option also for the megacities in the southern hemisphere due to their comparatively low labour costs for coating application.
McCrady predicts that 10-years on, protective coatings will be applied immediately after road construction rather than the current practice of waiting for a few years.
“Of course, putting on sunscreen before hitting the beach is much smarter than doing it after a period of unprotected exposure to the sunlight,” he noted.
Another player in a new generation of coatings and colour materials is Parsippany, New Jersey-based major manufacturer Sun Chemical, a producer of packaging and graphic solutions, colour and display technologies. It recently (December 2022) launched a joint project with Corona, California-based GuardTop, which combines Sun Chemical’s unique near infrared (NIR) reflective pigments with GuardTop’s asphalt emulsion sealcoat CoolSeal4. “The collaboration allows [among other things] for the creation of more durable coatings using inorganic pigments that can extend the substrate’s lifetime and reduce resource consumption for repeated renovation,” said a Sun Chemical note.
"JC Global claims that if this solution is applied on an area of 1000m2, it should help to reduce fine dust by 3.4kg per year, which is equivalent to the amount purified by 100 trees"
For more information, contact: Keith Nuthall, International News Services
Tel: +44 (0)207 193 4888
- http://www.jchi.co.kr; https://www.venturesquare.net/859515