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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Revolutionary resurfacing trial on the A1

Graphene

National Highways to trial use of graphene in Northumberland resurfacing scheme later this month

NATIONAL Highways is to trial the use of graphene – a material only one atom thick – in road surfacing to see if it prolongs the lifespan of the surface.

If successful, use of this high-tech product could see the operational life of key road features extended by several years, reducing the frequency of roadworks and making journeys for road users smoother and more reliable.

Graphene is the name for a single sheet of carbon atoms, arranged in a honeycomb pattern. It is the building block of graphite – pencil lead – and is an incredibly strong, conductive, and flexible material that can be utilized in a wide range of applications, from aerospace engineering to digital electronics and biomedicine.

The revolutionary resurfacing trial will take place along three miles of the northbound carriageway of the A1 between Newton on the Moor and West Cawledge, south of Alnwick, in Northumberland, from 19 September to 1 November 2021.

National Highways’ asset needs manager, Graeme Watt, said: ‘This is an exciting time for National Highways. We are constantly striving to improve the journeys of our customers and graphene has real potential to do that.

‘Laboratory trials have been a success and the on-site trials in Northumberland will be a world-first use of graphene in road production, which enforces our commitment to innovation and helps to push the industry towards more carbon-friendly maintenance with longer-lasting solutions which we all benefit from.

‘Graphene’s benefits are industry-changing. It’s stronger than steel and adding it to other materials can turn them into super materials. From what we’ve seen so far, it could make some of our assets last significantly longer.’

National Highways is carrying out the trials with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) at The University of Manchester and Pavement Testing Services (PTS).

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