Earth-friendly way to soften old asphalt, scoop it up, recycle it and lay it down again

B.C. company paves way for recycled road asphaltMartec Recycling Corp. has an Earth-friendly way to soften old asphalt, scoop it up, recycle it and lay it down again(British Columbia, Canada) From Highway 401 in Toronto the Pan American Highway in Costa Rica, a $4-million machine developed in Vancouver is turning old road surfaces into new.The Martec AR2000 is a four-unit train, 64 metres long, that uses hot air to soften old asphalt, scoop it up, recycle it, and lay it down again in a seamless, emission-free operation.”It’s the biggest road construction machine right now,” says Martec Recycling Corp. president and chief executive officer Mostafa Joharifard.And depending on road and weather conditions it can replace four kilometres of single lane roadway per day.Hot in-place recycling (HIR), as it is called, has been around since the 1930s, but it wasn’t until Martec developed its AR2000 in 1994 that many of the problems — such as smoke and fumes, over-heated asphalt, fractured aggregate and slow production — were solved.Today, B.C.’s technology is getting worldwide recognition, with Martec and its joint venture partners involved in China, Japan, Costa Rica, Poland, Romania, Italy and Greece, and negotiations under way in 20 other countries.Last year, the company had sales worth $10 million. Within the next five years, it projects annual revenue could reach half a billion dollars.”Our dream is [that], out of a $100-billion market worldwide, we might get eight to 10 per cent,” Iranian-born Joharifard said in an interview.”My dream is that we change the way all countries in the world use their resources. Our goal is to bring the idea to the entire world that, yes, it is possible to recycle pavement and make it better than before.”Martec will be the only B.C. company represented at the World Road Congress in Durban, South Africa next October, which attracts 3,000 industry leaders and 100 government authorities. “Here you have got a Vancouver company that is an international leader,” said John Emery, president of Toronto-based John Emery Geotechnical Engineering Ltd., a leading independent engineering consultant.Emery said he has studied HIR technology on behalf of offshore clients and found Martec to be the best — although not necessarily the cheapest.”Everything I have looked at tells me it’s leading-edge technology,” he added.”In China and Costa Rica we have identified unique problems that Martec technology will deal with. The bottom line is: I think it’s state-of-the-art.”What it does is rehabilitate deteriorated asphalt to a depth of 50mm using high velocity air and low-level infrared heat that gently heats the pavement surface, allowing it to be removed, reconstituted and relaid.”We bring the garbage back to [the client’s] specifications,” said Joharifard. “That’s the key.”Emery said what separates the AR2000 from earlier models is that it breaks up the old surface without damaging the asphalt components, or generating smoke.”The analogy is cooking a steak on the backyard barbecue. You don’t burn it to a crisp,” he said. Joharifard, a mechanical engineer who developed the AR2000 prototype at a cost of $4 million, said his team used its own ideas and innovation to improve the equipment helped by technical support from parts manufacturers around the world. He sees success as a vindication of his faith in the technology, which he acquired from Vancouver-based Artec International when it went bankrupt.”The technology died and now it’s back based on hard work and innovation,” Emery said. “It’s a great Canadian story, but the real story is how B.C. is exporting the technology due to Mostafa’s entrepreneurial skills.”Joharifard says recycling means it is no longer necessary to put old asphalt into landfill.”It’s faster, cleaner and more environmentally friendly than traditional paving methods, and we can make it better quality than when the road was built,” he said. “These pavements can be recycled a hundred times.”One day, we can see that recycling is going to be the standard for road rehabilitation. If it becomes the standard in the next 20 years, we will see 5,000 to 6,000 recycling trains working around the world.”The traditional method of resurfacing roads is to apply a new coat of asphalt with or without removing the existing surface. This involves the use of bitumen, a petroleum byproduct, plus a mixture of high quality rock and sand.”Gravel is becoming scarce all over, that’s one reason recycling makes sense,” says Joe Cuzzocrea, general manager of Peter’s Bros. Construction Ltd., of Penticton, the only paving company in B.C. to own a Martec AR2000. “It’s going to come, but I don’t know if it will come in the next 10 to 15 years.”Cuzzocrea said there are three other B.C. companies that operate HIR equipment, and although they frequently tender against each other, they lobby as a group for provincial highway contracts. Currently, Peter’s Bros. is repaving an 11.5-kilometre stretch of Highway 1 between the Vedder Canal and the Chilliwack overpass, laying 175,000 square metres of road surface.”It’s the way of the future, but right now there’s not enough work in the province for all of us,” he said. In the U.S., Canadian HIR equipment has encountered strong opposition from traditional paving contractors and their suppliers who have a financial interest in doing things the old way.”The good ‘ol boys don’t want it because it’s taking away some of their work,” Cuzzocrea added. “Martec has done some work down there, but for the most part they are trying to keep the technology out.”We work in B.C. mostly. Ontario has called me a couple of times. If [business] were a little bit slower we would do some work there, but there’s just enough here to keep us at home.”The Costa Rica project involves resurfacing 180 kilometres of the Pan American Highway from the Nicaraguan border to a point near the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, a contract worth $16.5 million US.”It’s a very high-profile project,” Joharifard said. “If it’s successful, it’s accepted that all the countries that are sharing the same highway from Mexico to Panama will use the same technology for rehabilitation of their major highways. The IMF, the World Bank, the International Road Association, are all watching this very carefully.”In the long term, Martec believes China offers the most potential.”In the last 10 years, the Chinese have invested $200 billion US on new highway construction, and most highways deteriorate in six to seven years,” Joharifard said. “Maintenance and rehabilitation is the important task.”Currently, Martec is working on a contract in Hebei Province which has selected HIR technology to maintain its expressways. The Asian Development Bank, which is financing a projected 23,000 kilometres of additional road infrastructure in the province by 2010, is insisting on the purchase of maintenance equipment as a prerequisite for new pavement.”Recycling saves up to 35 per cent in cost and 50 per cent in time,” Joharifard said. “It helps the economy and makes a better life for everybody. That’s the vision we want to promote.”

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