Britpave: The British In-Situ Concrete Paving Association

Concrete roads save fuel costs and reduce CO2 emissions

With road hauliers recently protesting in Westminster against petrol taxation, a new report on the potential fuel savings to be gained from driving concrete roads makes interesting reading both financially and environmentally.

The report, ‘Concrete Pavements Contribute to Decarbonising of Transport’, from Eupave, the European Concrete Pavement Association, pulls together the findings of a number of independent international research studies. These have compared the fuel consumption of heavy good vehicles using concrete and asphalt road surfaces and examined the impact of a number of factors particularly that of rolling resistance which has a direct influence on tyre-pavement interaction and, therefore, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
The studies found that the stiff and rigid pavements of concrete roads significantly reduced the fuel consumption of heavy goods vehicles compared with the flexible pavements of asphalt roads. The reduction is due to the decreased rolling resistance between a vehicle’s wheels and the rigid road surface. The deflection of a flexible asphalt pavement increases the rolling resistance and, therefore, the fuel consumption.

The research reported savings of up to 6.7%. This not only offers significant financial savings but given that road haulage in Europe produces some 40% percent of transport CO2 emissions there is a significant environmental benefit too.

The Eupave report examined the research carried out by the National Research Council in Canada, the Transport Research Laboratory in the UK, the Swedish National Road and Transport Institute and Lund University and the Nippon Expressway Institute in Japan. Research carried out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA determined that asphalt pavements would need to be 25 to 60% thicker to provide the same level of fuel savings as concrete pavements.

Collating the research findings, Eupave concluded that a 100km concrete road with a daily traffic of 5,000 to 15,000 heavy goods vehicles would over a 30 year period save up to 400,000 tonnes of CO2.

Commenting on the research, David Jones, Director of Britpave, a founder member of Eupave, said: “The Eupave report shows the range of potential financial and CO2 savings to be gained from driving over concrete roads. These have been widely proven by a range of independent international studies. In addition to these benefits are those of long-term performance and minimum maintenance that translate to impressive whole life cost savings.”