Safer and greener: Israel’s high-tech highways
Asphalt that uses recycled tires makes roads easier to brake on and helps the environment, says Dimona Silica Industries
Leave it to Israel to infuse high technology into something as prosaic as asphalt. A Negev company has developed a road asphalt compound that uses old tires for strength and safety, and is friendly to the environment to boot.
The new compound, called RuBind, is already in use in Israel. Approved by the Israel Standards Institute last October, the compound was used to pave roads in the Beit She’an Valley that are particularly notorious for their accidents. Among the qualities of RuBind is its “rubberiness,” due to the bits and pieces of rubber mixed in with the asphalt, and as a result, cars have an easier time braking thanks to the higher friction that occurs when a car’s rubber tires meets the rubber on the road.
RuBind is based on recycled rubber tires that would otherwise have littered junk piles, or would have been burned, the company, Dimona Silica Industries (DSI), said. Because of the ubiquitous presence of old tires, the production process is cheap, and because rubber handles wear and tear far better than plain asphalt, the roads paved with the compound will be longer lasting, DSI said, with fewer potholes and gaps developing due to the impact of traffic.
Scientists from several countries have been evaluating the Israeli roads paved with RuBind, and now DSI has contracts to supply its special mix to companies paving roads in Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Italy, China, the US, and other countries.
DSI, located in the Negev, has a tradition of recycling. The company is know for producing precipitated silica derived from porcellanite, the waste material from the production of phosphates. The silica is used in a variety of products, including tires for autos (silica is a major component of tires).
“Each year, some 50,000 tires in Israel are disposed of, and become trash,” said DSI CEO Ronen Peled. “According to new environmental laws, you can no longer bury or burn these old tires. Now for the first time, there is a method to use these tires as part of an asphalt mix to pave roads that are safer, sturdier, and environmentally friendly, at a lower cost.”