Partnership Nets Research Dollars for Asphalt-Rubber

Tempe, AZ - The Rubber Pavement Association, the Federal Highway Administration, (FHWA) National Asphalt Paving Association, and AASHTO have formed an alliance to assist Ford Motor Company in utilizing the 13 million tires replaced last summer. Ford, an environmentally sensitive company, sought the help of the FHWA in finding ways to prevent the tires from being landfilled or burned. The FHWA took the lead in contacting appropriate associations with experience in using tires in transportation applications and developing objectives essential for the success of the effort.

The objectives enumerated by Byron Lord, Deputy Director, FHWA Office of Pavement Technology, include: (1) Finding uses that add value. (2) Assuring all highway applications are technically, economically and environmentally sound. (3) Document the benefits of the technology and demonstrate its practicability. (4) Identify incentives to encourage interest and participation and create opportunities for others to succeed and share in the succeed. (5) Create opportunities to expand the vision and the practice of reuse.

Mr. Lord said the FHWA policy supporting reuse and recycling of used by-product and secondary materials in the highway system was based on three principles: engineering, economics and environmental soundness.

Andy Acho, Ford's Worldwide Director for Environmental Outreach, and Mr. Lord spoke at the Rubber Pavement Association (RPA) midyear meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona. Mr. Acho announced Ford had entered into an agreement with RPA produce member, Recovery Technologies Group (RTG) of New Jersey, to collect all the replaced Firestone Wilderness tires and process them into crumb rubber. In addition to the Asphalt-Rubber technology, he said other applications could include park playground mats, running tracks, sports fields, anti-fatigue mats, equestrian arenas, automotive parts and other environmentally responsible uses of "retired" tires. Ford has adopted the objectives of the FHWA and is developing a program offering the incentives of supplying crumb rubber to agencies who will agree to placing demonstration projects on their streets or highways. By utilizing the Ford offer, agencies can offset the higher initial costs of asphalt-rubber and gain benefits from the long term performance of the materials.

While in Arizona, the Ford, RTG and FHWA representatives met with the Arizona Department of Transportation, the nation's most experienced agency in the use of asphalt-rubber. To develop a working model on how the program will work, Ford turned to ADOT to place the first asphalt-rubber project utilizing the replaced tires. However, since the project selected involved rubber already purchased from RTG, the Ford-selected processor for the tires collected by Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers, the automotive giant agreed to donate a like sum of money to Arizona State University (ASU) for four of the thirteen major research needs identified by the RPA Technical Advisory Board.

The research includes: (1) RPA Project 11, evaluating asphalt-rubber using the test proposed for AASHTO 2002 Design Guide; (2) Project 8, creating a database of asphalt-rubber projects; (3) Project 10, developing PG Binder specifications for asphalt-rubber binders; and (4) Project 11, laboratory and field evaluation procedures.

Mark Belshe, RPA technical advisory board chairman, said, "To have researchers such as Drs. Matt Witczak and Kamil Kalouch of the Center for High Performance Pavements at ASU, conducting four of the thirteen long-term research projects identified by our technical advisor, speaks volumes about the future of asphalt-rubber."