Cracked, rutted roads pocked with potholes are dangerous to drive on and expensive to repair. Civil engineers at Michigan Technological University have a solution: add a small dose – between 2 and 4 per cent by weight – of nanoclay to the asphalt binder.
Initial tests show that the clay helps increase asphalt viscosity by more than 40 per cent, making it less likely to deform in hot weather or heavy traffic conditions. The researchers are also testing other potential asphalt additives such as nanosilica and are experimenting with higher percentages of nanoclay to see if that helps to prevent rutting and cracking. – AH