Blacklidge Emulsions, a Mississippi-based company that develops asphalt technology, recently announced that it is developing next-generation asphalt products enhanced with graphene. The developement will be done through a collaboration between Blacklidge and TLC Products. The two companies are combining their respective niche expertise to further the performance, safety and sustainability of asphalt pavement throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world.
“A little bit goes a long way,” says Charles Chang, founder of TLC. “Our patented process, licensed from Rutgers University, produces covalent bonded graphene mixed with various polymers to dramatically improve their mechanical properties. We use graphite and recycled plastics as raw materials, opening a new path to bring low-cost graphene to industries like asphalt in ways never thought possible on such a broad scale”. Among other benefits, TLC’s graphene-composites will absorb ultraviolet light from the sun and reduce degradation of the organic components of the “glue” that holds asphalt together –– often the weakest link contributing to pavement breakdown.
Blacklidge Executive Chairman, Brittany Blacklidge, believes strongly that successfully incorporating materials with properties like graphene to improve asphalt performance is key to achieving that goal. “We believe that this marriage of graphene and asphalt is a match made in pavement heaven,” says Blacklidge. “Their combination is greater than the sum of its parts. We’re pleased that the cost-benefit ratio is now making this a reality.”
Blacklidge added that his company’s philosophy is to push the boundaries of what we think is possible. “Over 90% of U.S. roads are paved with asphalt. That’s over two million miles of roads that are aging fast and will need replacing, not to mention new roads to be built in the future.”
The company is known for its asphalt innovations such UltraTack Trackless Tack® (patented 2011) and UltraFuse® Bond Coat which have led to prestigious contracts. The company re-surfaced the drive at the White House in Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania Avenue running in front of the White House in 2020 and has paved or resurfaced a number of competitive racetracks throughout the U.S. in recent years, including a new Las Vegas racetrack.
Blacklidge also sees a natural expansion of this new form of asphalt beyond roads into roofing and other industries using asphalt formulations.
Blacklidge actively encourages the use of recycled products such as reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP), recycled ground-tire rubber (GTR), and recycled asphalt-shingles (RAS). This new product will bring graphene and recycled plastics to the mix. These sustainability efforts all work together to reduce environmental impact and enhance the cost-efficiency of road construction.
Matt Renick, P.E., Chief Innovation Officer at Blacklidge, who is leading the graphene-infused asphalt R&D effort, sums up company’s innovation mindset, “Of course we’re committed to the task force goal of zero net carbon emissions by 2050, but we want to make all asphalt pavements better across the entire United States by 2030.”