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Study to Examine Pavements’ Effects on Fuel Use, Emissions

June 3, 2008

Civil engineering researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington have begun a two-year study of how different pavement surface materials relate to changes in vehicle fuel consumption and emissions.

Professors Sia Ardekani and Stefan Romanoschi are using a $120,000 grant from the Ready Mixed Concrete Research & Education Foundation to conduct the inquiry. “We’re going to determine how much fuel is expended to travel one mile on various pavements,” said Dr. Ardekani. “Our goal is to incorporate fuel consumption and emissions savings as part of the life-cycle cost analysis for evaluating various paving material alternatives.”

Engineers have generally only considered the initial construction costs associated with new roadways when designing them. “But, these days,” Dr. Ardekani continued, “we should also consider reducing energy consumption as well as greenhouse gases created over the 20-to-30-year typical lifespan of the pavement surface.”

Incremental improvements in energy consumption and emissions can have major implications. Transportation – car, truck, airplane, train – accounts for 50 percent of all the energy consumed daily in the United States. Fifty percent of that is consumed by cars in city traffic.

A van will be specially outfitted with sensors and instruments for the study. Drs. Ardekani and Romanoschi will be assisted by two graduate students and will be gathering their information on city streets under similar conditions.

This project will be especially challenging for the researchers. There are a huge number of factors to measure and consider – vehicle mass, tire pressure, fuel type and source, ambient temperature and humidity, wind direction and velocity, and pavement roughness and slope. Additional factors such as stop-and-go or constant velocities and wet-or-dry surface conditions will also be examined.

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