Concrete industry research points to importance of road design in emission reduction

Washington, D.C. — The new emission standards for cars and gasoline announced recently by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) ignore opportunities to reduce pollution through enhanced infrastructure. Researchers at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub recently found that how the road is constructed could have a significant impact on the fuel economy of cars and trucks, and less fuel means less emissions. Research models predict the use of stiffer pavements, for example, could reduce fuel use by as much as 3 percent. This would create a reduction of 46.5 million tons of CO2 each year.

According to Gregory M. Scott, president and CEO of the Portland Cement Association, it is time to not only look at the efficiency of cars and trucks on the road and the chemistry of gasoline, but to look at the actual road for fuel economy and emission reductions.

“We should expand the debate beyond making more efficient cars and trucks to making more efficient infrastructure. Stiffer pavements – such as pavements made from concrete – produce less rolling resistance and better fuel economy,” Scott said.

Florida International University tested MIT’s research models in real-world conditions with similar results. They studied vehicles traveling on I-95 and found that traveling on rigid pavements consumes 3.2 percent less fuel than traveling on flexible pavements for passenger vehicles and 4.5 percent less fuel for loaded tractor-trailers. If all Florida pavements were rigid, it could reduce CO2 emissions by more than 5 million in that state alone.


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