Michigan State researchers, Ingham County Road Commission experiment with rubber-modified asphalt

Updated Jun 28, 2016

old tiresResearchers and county officials in Michigan are experimenting with rubber-modified asphalt installations that, while looking identical to conventional asphalt, is made with recycled tires, an ingredient that can prevent the spread of cracks in roadways.

The asphalt is made with tires that are cut up into pellets called devulcanized rubber.

“We first mix this with asphalt binder at certain temperatures, at high temperatures,” Michigan State University’s Emin Kutay told WLIX TV. “We mix it with aggregates, little stones, so we have an asphalt mixture design.”

That is just one of six different mixtures Kutay’s research team and the Ingham County Road Commission have created to test on roads.

The projects began in 2011 on Waverly Road, though that installation has not been very successful. Bill Conklin with the Ingham County road Commission told the news agency that they plan to put a chip seal on it, this year or next. But the roads on sections of Haslett, Cornell, Bennett, and Lake Lansing Roads have performed will.

“When you put rubber like elastic or a flexible material, inside there, as the cracks progress, when they hit the rubber, they stop,” Dr. Kutay told the news agency.

Conklin told the news agency that using the rubber modified asphalt meant longer lasting roads and less waste in landfills, as well as less funding for roads.

Two other counties, six communities in the state, and the Michigan Technological University are working on similar projects. The Department of Environmental Quality gave the researchers a grant of more than $2.9 million to continue the work.