New report looks at benefits of rubber modified asphalt as a paving solution

July 22, 2021

Report recommends additional research to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the technology’s impact

The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) and its partners today published a state of knowledge report that assessed existing research on the benefits of using ground tire rubber (GTR) in asphalt.

USTMA worked in partnership with the University of Missouri and The Ray, a nonprofit proving ground for sustainable transportation technologies, to develop the report.

The report finds that rubber modified asphalt is a resilient pavement solution to rebuild the nation’s roadways and a promising sustainable and circular end-of-life market for scrap tires. The report also provides recommendations for additional research to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the technology’s impact. 

USTMA says rubber modified asphalt, which incorporates ground tire rubber made from scrap tires into asphalt, provides demonstrated economic, performance and environmental benefits. Compared to traditional asphalt, rubber modified asphalt provides cost savings over the life of the asphalt, extends pavement life, and reduces noise, CO2 emissions, and tire and road wear particles. Rubber modified asphalt also leads to lower rolling resistance, which helps improve fuel economy, the report says.

Dr. Bill Buttlar, director of the Missouri Center for Transportation Innovation and the report’s lead researcher, worked to answer a critical question: Can rubber modified asphalt help eliminate scrap tire stockpiles in the U.S., boost pavement sustainability and longevity, and allow more miles of roads to be repaired?  

“This research provides those who make infrastructure decisions—road operators, state and federal regulators and legislators, pavement and road construction contractors and researchers—with important information on the effectiveness and environmental impact of rubber modified asphalt,” Dr. Buttlar said in a statement. “It outlines why states should review and expand asphalt specifications to incorporate this proven alternative. We should continue to research rubber modified asphalt to better understand the complete picture of this pavement’s environmental impacts and benefits.” 

The state of knowledge report also identified data gaps that should be addressed to better inform modern pavement design software programs, including the need for additional research on the life cycle impact of rubber modified asphalt and its properties and characteristics. The study reviewed more than 300 scholarly articles and reports and surveyed 26 state highway agencies to identify data gaps in knowledge and barriers to more widespread adoption of rubber modified asphalt nationwide. 

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SOURCE: U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association