LSU professor invents new way to fix crumbling roadways
BATON ROUGE - An LSU professor is working to fix Louisiana's damaged roadways.
According to a release from the school, Mechanical Engineering Professor Guoqiang Li and his team are working with shape memory polymer to fix the state's roads.
“This problem of cracking in pavement has existed for more than 100 years,” Guoqiang said. “No one can control it, so you must have a good sealant. We propose a sealant that behaves thermally opposite to common physics.”
Back in 2009, Guoqiang received a grant from the Transportation Research Board for the project. The project used a one-way shape memory polymer slab as a sealant, which was compressed horizontally and stretched vertically before installation. Then in 2012, he further improved the idea by developing an asphalt-base liquid sealant, according to the release.
Based on the invention, as the concrete freezes and shrinks, the sealant expands to fill the cracks. When the concrete warms up and expands, the sealant shrinks which prevents it from squeezing out of the crack.
“The two-way shape memory polymer has a weak bond with concrete,” Guoqiang said. “We add asphalt to the sealant to not only reduce the cost, but it will also help the sealant bond with the concrete."
Lab-scale testing for Phase One of the project has been completed. Phase Two involves working with three Departments of Transportation and Development in Louisiana, Texas and Minnesota.
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