Everything You Need to Know About Cold Recycling

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Introduction to Cold Recycling

Cold recycling is a method used in road construction and pavement rehabilitation to reuse existing asphalt materials and aggregates to create new road surfaces without the need for high-temperature asphalt production. This process is more environmentally friendly and cost-effective compared to traditional methods that involve hot-mix asphalt production.

In cold recycling, the existing asphalt pavement is milled or crushed to a certain depth, creating a reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) material. This RAP is mixed with additional aggregates, often bituminous materials or emulsified asphalt, and sometimes additives like cement or foamed asphalt. The resulting mixture is then placed and compacted to form a new road layer.

Cold Recycling Techniques

  1. Cold In-Place Recycling (CIR): In this method, the reclaimed asphalt pavement is processed and mixed with bituminous materials or emulsified asphalt on-site. The mixture is then laid back down on the road, compacted, and allowed to cure.
  2. Cold Central Plant Recycling (CCPR): The RAP material is transported to a central plant where it’s mixed with bituminous materials, emulsified asphalt, and possibly additives. The resulting mix is then transported back to the road site and laid down.
  3. Full-Depth Reclamation (FDR): This involves recycling the entire existing road pavement, including the base and subbase layers, by adding bituminous materials, emulsified asphalt, and/or additives to the reclaimed materials. The mixture is then compacted to create a new road structure.

Here are some other techniques of cold recycling:

    • Cement stabilisation: This technique involves adding cement to the recycled material. The cement helps to improve the strength and durability of the recycled material.
    • Foamed bitumen stabilisation: This technique involves adding foamed asphalt to the recycled material. The foamed asphalt helps to improve the workability and compaction of the recycled material.
    • Polymer stabilisation: This technique involves adding polymers to the recycled material. The polymers help to improve the flexibility and durability of the recycled material.

Cold Recycling Applications

  1. Road Rehabilitation: Cold recycling is often used to rehabilitate deteriorating or worn-out road surfaces. It can help extend the life of the road and improve its structural integrity without completely reconstructing it. This is particularly useful when the existing pavement is still in relatively good condition but requires some repairs and enhancements.
  2. Pavement Reconstruction: In cases where the existing pavement is severely damaged or needs a complete overhaul, cold recycling can be employed as a method for full-depth pavement reconstruction. This involves recycling not only the surface layer but also the underlying base and subbase layers, creating a new road structure.
  3. Base Stabilisation: Cold recycling can be used to stabilise the base and subbase layers of a road by mixing in additives like cement or lime with the reclaimed materials. This strengthens the layers and improves their load-bearing capacity, which is particularly valuable in areas with weak or inadequate base materials.
  4. Unpaved Road Improvement: Cold recycling can be applied to improve the condition of unpaved roads by mixing in additives to create a stabilised road surface. This technique helps reduce dust, control erosion, and enhance the road’s durability.
  5. Embankment Construction: Cold recycling can be utilised in constructing embankments and earthworks for road projects. By recycling and incorporating existing materials on site, it reduces the need for importing additional materials, saving costs and resources.
  6. Urban Roads and Streets: Cold recycling is suitable for urban road projects where the use of hot-mix asphalt might be challenging due to logistical and environmental concerns. It allows road maintenance and rehabilitation to take place with minimal disruption to traffic flow.
  7. Remote Areas: In remote or difficult-to-access locations, transporting hot-mix asphalt can be expensive and logistically complex. Cold recycling provides an efficient and cost-effective alternative, as it can be performed on-site using existing materials.
  8. Environmental Considerations: Cold recycling aligns well with environmentally conscious road construction practices, as it reduces energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and the demand for new raw materials.
Cold Recycling Benefits
    1. Environmental Benefits:
      • Reduced Energy Consumption: Cold recycling requires lower temperatures compared to hot-mix asphalt, leading to reduced energy consumption during production and construction.
      • Lower Emissions: The lower production temperatures result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants, contributing to improved air quality and environmental sustainability.
      • Reduced Need for Virgin Materials: Cold recycling reuses existing materials, reducing the demand for new aggregates and asphalt binders, which conserves natural resources.
    2. Cost-Effectiveness:
      • Reduced Material Costs: Cold recycling utilises existing pavement materials, reducing the need to purchase new aggregates and asphalt binders, resulting in cost savings.
      • Lower Construction Costs: Cold recycling can be performed on-site, minimising the need for transportation of materials and reducing labor and equipment costs.
      • Faster Construction: Cold recycling methods often require less curing time compared to hot-mix asphalt, allowing for quicker project completion and reduced construction-related disruptions.
    3. Sustainability:
      • Extended Pavement Life: Cold recycling can improve the structural integrity and durability of road surfaces, leading to longer pavement lifespan and reduced maintenance needs over time.
      • Reduced Waste Generation: By reusing existing materials, cold recycling minimises the generation of construction and demolition waste, contributing to sustainable waste management.
    4. Minimised Traffic Disruptions:
      • On-Site Construction: Cold recycling can be performed in place, reducing the need for road closures and detours that are often necessary during hot-mix asphalt construction.
      • Quicker Curing: Cold recycling materials often cure faster than hot-mix asphalt, allowing for faster reopening of roads to traffic.
    5. Flexibility and Adaptability:
      • Various Applications: Cold recycling can be applied to different road construction and rehabilitation scenarios, from minor repairs to full-depth reconstruction.
      • Customisable Mixtures: The composition of cold recycling mixtures can be tailored to suit specific project requirements, including the addition of stabilising agents or additives.
    6. Suitable for Challenging Situations:
      • Remote Locations: Cold recycling is particularly suitable for remote areas where transporting hot-mix asphalt materials may be challenging and expensive.
      • Urban Areas: Cold recycling can be less disruptive in urban settings, minimising traffic congestion and noise disturbances.
    7. Improved Material Performance:
      • Enhanced Strength: Cold recycling methods can result in improved material strength and performance due to the addition of stabilisers and additives.
      • Durable: Cold recycled pavements can be just as durable as new asphalt pavements, depending on the quality of the materials used and the quality of the construction.

The papers suggest that cold recycling has several benefits, Pakes 2018 found that using cold-in-place recycling (CIR) instead of mill and overlay (M&O) for highway resurfacing resulted in environmental savings of 23% in energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, 20% in water consumption, and a 37% reduction in virgin aggregate consumption. Epps 1980 notes that cold recycling is desirable because it requires less equipment and can correct structural and material problems quickly without disrupting traffic. Liu 2012 summarises the advantages of cold recycling, including low cost, high availability of recycled asphalt pavement (RAP), and quick construction speed. Tabakovic 2016 reports on the development of a specification for cold recycled materials and the application to a case study in Ireland, which included assessing different mix designs with varying binder type, content, and recycling depth. Overall, the papers suggest that cold recycling is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional resurfacing methods.

The Renolith Solution

Renolith 2.0 is a patented nanopolymer admixture for creating high-performance cementitious composites. It is typically used in soil stabilisation & cold recycling applications, where it enhances the application process and significantly improves compressive & tensile strength, stiffness, durability and impermeability. It enables a low-cost method of constructing long-life pavements free of ruts, cracks and potholes.

Renolith enables roads to be constructed using 100% in-situ soils and/or recycled aggregates, thereby eliminating the need to dispose of in-situ soils and mine, crush and transport vast quantities of virgin quarry material. It is compatible with inorganic binders typically used in stabilisation applications, such as cement, lime, fly-ash, Ground Granulated Blast Furnace Slag (GGBFS) and blends.



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