Self-healing Asphalt in TED Talk

March 12, 2013

On the A58 motorway in the Dutch province of Zeeland, a trial zone with the very first self-healing ZOAB asphalt has been surfaced. The Dutch city of Tilburg has the first self-repairing asphalt in the world applied as a thin sound-reducing top layer. This asphalt has a special feature. Using a special treatment, it can be refinished on-site without having to replace it. This worldwide first is an invention of Delft Technical University (TU Delft), developed into an applicable product in partnership with Heijmans.

The asphalt is self-healing thanks to adding steel wool. The steel fibres are finely distributed through the asphalt. The asphalt is heated up from the inside by driving an induction device over the road surface. The hair cracks that arise in the course of time on the surface are closed due to the viscosity caused by the heat. Erik Schlangen of Delft TU recently demonstrated the principle of self-repairing asphalt during the TEDxDelft. Meanwhile, this video was selected by TED.com as one of the Feature Clips. Only 1% of all organised TEDx talks is selected as a Feature Clip on TED.com. Meanwhile, worldwide interest in this wonderful innovation has arisen!

Ground-breaking innovation

During the past few years, Delft TU scientists, in collaboration with Heijmans, Intron and Altravie, developed the so-called ZOAB (Very Open Asphalt Concrete). Heijmans translated this development into a product applicable in reality. Additionally, major demand for sound-reducing surfaces has developed in urban areas. The applications of asphalt mixes that can realise this are limited. The slightly porous (sound-reducing) mix cannot be applied on junctions, along motorway entrances and along parking sections due to their short technical life. Using the self-healing asphalt mix in these difficult locations, the quality can be maintained with periodical induction treatments.