7 September 2016
The limits of partial life cycle assessment studies in road construction practices_01.jpg




Extensive published literature shows that hydrated lime improves Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) durability. Its impact on the environmental impact of HMA has not been investigated. This paper presents a comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for the use of HMA without hydrated lime (classical HMA) and with hydrated lime (modified HMA) for the lifetime of a highway. System boundaries cover the life cycle from cradle-to-grave, meaning extraction of raw materials to end of life of the road. The main assumptions were: 1. Lifetime of the road 50 years; 2. Classical HMA with a life span of 10 years, maintenance operations every 10 years; 3. Modified HMA with an increase in the life span by 25%, maintenance operations every 12.5 years. For the lifetime of the road, modified HMA has the lowest environmental footprint compared to classical HMA with the following benefits: 43% less primary total energy consumption resulting in 23% lower emissions of greenhouse gases. Partial LCAs focusing only on the construction and/or maintenance phase should be used with caution since they could lead to wrong decisions if the durability and the maintenance scenarios differ. Sustainable construction technologies should not only consider environmental impact as quantified by LCA, but also economic and social impacts as well. Avoiding maintenance steps means less road works, fewer traffic jams and hence less CO2 emissions.

Authors: T. Schlegel, D. Puiatti, H.-J. Ritter, D. Lesueur, C. Denayer, A. Shtiza