A new form of asphalt derived from plants instead of petroleum is being put to the test in Iowa’s capital city.
Christopher Williams is an associate professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at Iowa State University. He helped develop the mixture for asphalt that includes corn stalks, wood wastes and other biomass.
Williams says “Bioasphalt” is cheaper to produce than the traditional form of pavement because it can be mixed at lower temperatures. “That’s what is exciting about it,” Williams said. “When we see the needs for our transportation infrastructure out there, this is yet another alternative that can make our roads better and is priced competitive.”
Williams was on hand Wednesday as a construction crew used Bioasphalt to pave a bike trail on Des Moines’ northwest side. It’s the first time the mixture has been tested outside a lab. “We’re pretty confident the material will hold up during those extreme high and low temperature events,” Williams said.
The Iowa DOT and other agencies will be studying how the material holds up and if it could eventually be used on highway and interstate projects in the state.
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