‘Rubber roads’ kinder to ears and the environment

Loud neighbours, barking dogs, air traffic… noise pollution is a tediously inevitable part of urban living. According to the World Health Organisation it can also lead to serious health problems, too – namely stress and sleep issues.

Unfortunately there’s not much to be done to quieten the neighbour’s screaming kids, but now street traffic could be given a big shush thanks to new developments by engineers aiming to reduce road racket.

By adding recycled rubber crumbs from old tyres to the bitumen used to make asphalt, roads are ‘softer’, cutting traffic noise by 25 percent while offering greater durability than regular road asphalt.

According to The Economist:

Pores between the stones in standard asphalt must be small, because if the gaps are too big the bitumen binding cannot do its job properly. Adding rubber thickens the bitumen. That allows bigger pores, which help to trap and disperse sound waves. The rubberised bitumen itself is flexible and slightly springy, which enables it to absorb more unwanted sonic energy.

Not only are the roads quieter, more durable and cheaper than traditional roads, but they’re also kinder to the environment. The rubber comes from recycled tyres (and there’s enough of those kicking about), and can partially replace bitumen, which is derived from oil.

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