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Consequences of long-term infrastructure decisions—the case of self-healing roads and their CO2 emissions

Rodríguez-Alloza, Ana María; Heihsel, Michael; Fry, Jacob; Gallego, Juan; Geschke, Arne; Wood, Richard; Lenzen, Manfred

What could be the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions if the conventional way of maintaining roads is changed? Emissions of greenhouse gases must be reduced if global warming is to be avoided, and urgent political and technological decisions should be taken. However, there is a lock-in in built infrastructures that is limiting the rate at which emissions can be reduced. Self-healing asphalt is a new type of technology that will reduce the need for fossil fuels over the lifetime of a road pavement, at the same time as prolonging the road lifespan. In this study we have assessed the benefits of using self-healing asphalt as an alternative material for road pavements employing a hybrid input–output-assisted Life-Cycle Assessment, as only by determining the plausible scenarios of future emissions will policy makers identify pathways that might achieve climate change mitigation goals. We have concluded that self-healing roads could prevent a considerable amount of emissions and costs over the global road network: 16% lower emissions and 32% lower costs compared to a conventional road over the lifecycle.
Published in: Environmental Research Letters, 10.1088/1748-9326/ab424a, Institute of Physics Publishing (IOP)