EME2: The Australian road network’s new technology

EME2 asphalt, a new high modulus asphalt technology that is beginning to be implemented in Australian roads, is garnering national attention because of its potential to reduce base course layer thickness, cut costs, and help to build stronger and long-lasting roads.

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Global bitumen technology company, the Colas Group, has been associated with the development of EME2 since the 1980s in France, and when they acquired SAMI Bitumen Technologies nine years ago they became instrumental in bringing EME2 to the Australian road industry.

Trevor Distin, Technical and Marketing Manager at Colas Australia, said years of work developing and testing the technology reached a peak in March 2017 when 10,000 tonnes of EME2 asphalt was paved in the Gateway Upgrade North (GUN) Project in Queensland, a project involving upgrading 11.3km of the Gateway Motorway to six lanes between Nudgee and Bracken Ridge. This project was the largest installation of EME2 asphalt ever in Australia.

Benefitting Australia’s road network

The main appeal of EME2 asphalt for road builders is its potential to reduce the layer thickness of the base course for a heavily trafficked road by up to 30 per cent, depending on climatic and traffic conditions.

It is designed for heavily trafficked roads, and its use in the design and construction of pavements can make them stronger and longer lasting. Work can be undertaken more efficiently, allowing for significantly lower construction and maintenance costs for asset owners in the road industry, as well as owners of airport and container terminal assets.

Mr Distin said EME2 results in a more sustainable use of Australia’s natural resources and can allow roads to carry heavier loads to reduce costs of freight.

“Key to designing and producing EME2 is the access to the special hard grade of bitumen. Since the construction of the first EME2 demonstration project in Brisbane in February 2014, SAMI have been supplying 15/25 penetration grade bitumen for EME2 trials across Australia out of their Port of Brisbane facility,” Mr Distin said.

Working with industry for further implementation

Colas and SAMI have worked with other industry stakeholders to ensure that the Australian EME2 upholds the same high standards and specifications as its does in France.

Colas’ central laboratory in Paris has been able to compare SAMI’s EME2 Australian mix designs with French performance specifications and found that it meets all requirements.

Mr Distin said this was a crucial step to be able to show the industry that it is able to produce the same outcomes and benefits as the original technology.

The findings impressed Main Roads Western Australia (MRWA) enough for them to use EME2 asphalt on a 1,200 tonne section of a Perth road project, with a plan to also use it on Stage One of the North Link Project, which will see 12,000 tonnes of EME2 paved. This is one of many reasons why SAMI will build a processing facility at its Kwinana bitumen terminal, to produce the innovative hard bitumen technology for the Australian market.

Also, in January 2017, the Australian Asphalt Pavement Association released the EME2 Model Specification, which acts as a guide for asset owners to use EME2 asphalt mixes in their projects. The model specification includes two grades of hard bitumen which can be used, namely 10/20 and 15/25. SAMI supplies both grades to Australia with the 10/20 rendering a higher modulus value to the asphalt.

This partner content is brought to you by Colas Australia . For more information, visit colas.com.au

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