Lehigh Technologies makes it easier and more sustainable to pave roads, and the Atlanta-based subsidiary of Michelin North America, Inc., is demonstrating it with a project that’s close to home.
Lehigh’s Rubber Modified Asphalt, made with recycled tire rubber powder, is being used to resurface 6.3 miles of Lawrenceville Highway between Tucker and Lilburn, Georgia.
“We’ve paved miles of road using this technology, but what’s unique about this job is that it’s in our own backyard, literally,” said Jason Stravinski, President and CEO of Lehigh Technologies. “This is a main road that many of our Lehigh team and local community use to drive to and from work every day.”
The paving project began in September and is in its final stages.
How it works
There are two ways to modify liquid bitumen used to pave a road. One is with oil-derived synthetic polymer; the other is with Rubber Modified Asphalt (RMA), a high-performing solution made with micronized rubber powder generated from end-of-life tires. RMA is produced using Lehigh’s MicroDyneTM rubber powder plus proprietary additive RheopaveTM. This product blend has been used to produce more than 1,500 miles of road in recent years.
RMA provides a high-quality road surface while also solving multiple business challenges, said Kara Fulcher, Director of Sustainability and Government Affairs for Michelin North America, Inc. First, it uses tires at the end of their first life, which are already available in the North American market. Second, this recycled material replaces a polymer derived from the oil-refining process. Finally, RMA is a locally sourced replacement for an ingredient that is generally imported from Asia. All in all, it provides a highly resilient response to a long, complex supply chain, she said.
“Michelin and Lehigh are proud to take end-of-life tires and give them new life in other products through innovation,” Fulcher said. “The Lawrenceville Highway resurfacing project is an excellent example of Lehigh and Michelin’s shared commitment to keep valuable materials in service as long as possible, so we can enjoy life in motion with progressively less ecological impact.”
Another advantage of Lehigh’s sustainable product blend is its versatility. It can be used to modify liquid bitumen at an asphalt terminal, or it can be directly added at an asphalt contractor’s site via the “Dry Process,” as it was with this project. Lehigh is one of several companies that have been at the forefront of developing this unique, cost-saving modification process to produce sustainable and long-lasting roadways.
“Rubber Modified Asphalt produced via the Dry Process with Lehigh’s state-of-the-art technologies provide a paving solution that is equally effective as oil-derived polymer modified asphalt, yet it’s cheaper and more friendly to the environment,” Stravinski said. “With oil and gas prices growing higher each day, why buy and import polymer when there are better, more sustainable options here in the U.S.?”
The recently completed project repaved 6.3 miles of Lawrenceville Highway, also known as State Road 8, from the DeKalb County line to Ronald Reagan Parkway. Lehigh’s headquarters (blue rectangle on map) is in Tucker, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta.
In addition to road surfacing, Lehigh’s micronized rubber powders are used in a number of unique applications, including being used in new tires, as well as a variety of rubber goods, roofing, plastics, industrial coatings and automotive components.
About Lehigh Technologies
Lehigh Technologies is a leading specialty chemicals company that produces high-performance micronized rubber powders (MRP), a sustainable specialty material that replaces oil-based materials to reduce costs and dependence on fossil fuels. Lehigh's cryogenic turbo mill technology converts end-of-life tires and other post-industrial rubber into micron-scale powders used in a wide range of consumer and industrial applications. Customers include more than 60 leading tire, asphalt and plastics companies around the world. To learn more, visit lehightechnologies.com.