Estimated emissions and CO2 savings deriving from adoption of in-place recycling techniques for road pavements

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1 Estimated emissions and CO2 savings deriving from adoption of in-place recycling techniques for road pavements Introduction Objective: to estimate the CO2 emissions produced by road surface construction and maintenance (on Autostrade per l'italia s motorway network) carried out by the subsidiary, Pavimental SpA, and to evaluate the savings resulting from the techniques adopted in the recycling of deteriorated pavements. The results obtained were based on three different phases of the process: 1. Offsite production of bitumen conglomerate 2. Transport of the material produced offsite to the roadworks site (and return journey) 3. Laying of the asphalt/construction and maintenance carried out by Pavimental SpA s work teams The overall process can be schematised as follows: Offsite production of bitumen conglomerate The hot production of conglomerate at a permanent plant consists of heating and drying virgin igneous material and mixing it with variable proportions of pure bitumen and filler, in order to form the most homogeneous mass possible. The virgin inert materials, which are classified on the basis of their granulometry as filler, sand, gravel, rubble, etc. (fig. 1), are loaded separately on to four/five hoppers (usually three for the larger aggregates and one or two for the sand) which, based on production needs, effect an initial dosage and dispatch the material to a rotating drum oven via a conveyer belt. Fig.1 : Granulometric classification of inert materials The oven, called a drier, looks like a rotating steel cylinder, sloping in the direction in which the material moves, with special internal blades that pick up the material and drop it through the burner flame, thereby heating it and drawing out the moisture. This represents the heart of the production system. Indeed, the production capacity of the entire plant depends on the efficiency of the drier. 1

2 The thermal energy is generally supplied by low-sulphur diesel or, as an alternative in certain permanent plants connected to the gas network, by natural gas. Diesel consumption is linked to the number of calories necessary in order to eliminate the moisture present in the aggregates. In order to prevent the compounds resulting from combustion and the particulate material being discharged into the atmosphere, the drier is equipped with a special suction system that draws the gas flow and dust into an abatement system, which generally consists initially of a dry dust remover, followed by a wet or a suction filter. Particles with a diameter of over 25microns are drawn off and subsequently reused as filler. The heated and dried material (T= C) is then transported, via a hot elevator, to the highest part of the mixing tower where, thanks to a system of vibrating sieves, it is reclassified based on three or more sizes. Inside the tower the aggregates are sent to the mixing unit, where they are combined with the fillers, generally added cold, and hot bituminous binder (the bitumen is heated in special thermal tanks). The finished conglomerate is finally loaded directly on to lorries for transport. Road pavement recycling techniques By the term recycle we mean any possibility of recovering and reusing milled material in the production of new bitumen conglomerate. In accordance with the specific production methods, we can certainly say that milled material can be fully recovered and reused, obtaining two enormous benefits for the environment: 1. a reduction in air pollution; 2. a reduction in the need to extract virgin materials; Moreover, the use of materials and technologies, capable of recycling bituminous mixes obtained from deteriorated pavements, results in reduced transport, cuts in the use of new materials, and a decrease in the quantities of waste to be disposed of in costly and environmentally damaging dumps. The recycling of milled material can be carried out in various ways depending on the production site and the technique employed. In terms of production site the classification is as follows: - recycling in special plants; - in-place recycling using special automated machinery that mills, mixes and lays the product at the same time; In terms of technique the classification is as follows: - recycling through heating up the materials ( hot recycling ); - recycling without first heating up the materials, but with the addition of binders and regenerating additives ( cold recycling ). Cold in-place recycling represents the technique offering the greatest savings in economic and environmental terms. Cold recycling takes place via machinery that enables the milled materials to be continuously mixed, combining them with emulsion, cement, water and virgin inert materials in order to reconstitute the granulometry, if necessary. The most commonly used cold recycling processes used in road pavement maintenance are: 1. cold in-place recycling with bitumen foam and cement; 2. cold in-place recycling with emulsion and cement; In the first case, hot bitumen ( C) is brought into contact with water at ambient temperature. The steam generated causes an immediate, explosive expansion and the formation of bitumen foam, which increases the specific surface area, making it easier to mix with the cold and wet aggregates. In the second case, on the other hand, a 2

3 mixture of bitumen, water and emulsions7 (or tensioactives) are added to the milled material in a technique called emulsion. The emulsion ensures the cohesion, stability and flexibility of the new conglomerate. The following table shows the components of bituminous conglomerate that have been cold recycled with bitumen emulsion and the related theoretical dosages. Component Quantity in % milled material deriving from scarified or milled pavements bitumen emulsion with a binding function 3,0 5,0 cement 1 added for various purposes 1,0 3,0 Water added to make the mix softer 1,0 5,0 Aggregate added to correct the granulometric curve variable Description of the model The proposed model in this study determines the contribution to carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere from: 1. permanent plants owned by the company; 2. the transport of material from permanent plants to roadworks sites and vice versa; 3. the operation of in-place machinery; In order to ensure that the method for measuring the emissions produced by the plants and machinery used by Pavimental SpA is in line with the method used to measure the Group s other emissions, we have only considered the above three phases, excluding any evaluation of the emissions linked to use of raw materials, which represent the production input. The functional unit on which the analysis is based is: a tonne of laid material. First phase: production of conglomerate by plants To evaluate the quantity of CO2 emitted in this phase, we adopted a Top-Down approach, due to the lack of specific data on the technical characteristics and emissions of individual permanent plants. The method is, therefore, based on aggregate data for fuel consumption and the annual production of bituminous conglomerate. In order to operate its production plants in 2011, the company used approximately tonnes of low-sulphur diesel, 1.8 million cubic metres of natural gas, and around 896 tonnes of LPG in order to heat the bitumen in the storage tanks. Based on this level of consumption and using specific conversion factors (the source of the emission factors used is the Revised IPCC guidelines for National Greenhouse gas inventories ), the quantity of CO2 in tonnes emitted during full combustion was calculated. In the case of Pavimental s permanent plants we estimated that combustion efficiency for the driers was 95% on average. This meant that in the calculation model used, the IPPC CO2 emission factor was corrected using an oxidation coefficient of Processing the data resulted in an absolute value for CO2 emissions, amounting to tonnes, during the production of approximately tonnes of bituminous conglomerate. This results in a relative factor of 25.2 kg of CO2 per tonne of conglomerate. By multiplying this figure by the quantity of conglomerate produced by cold in-place recycling, amounting to approximately tonnes (representing the avoided volume of plant output), we calculated the emissions saved deriving from the recovery of deteriorated pavement (2.772 tonnes of CO2) during the production phase alone. 1 Cement is a synergic component of the process, important in enhancing the conglomerate s resistance. 3

4 Second phase: Transport of conglomerate Given that the transport of bituminous products and/or milled pavement material is carried out by external contractors, and is thus not directly handled by Pavimental SpA, a number of generalisations have been applied: - the distance between two permanent sites = approx. 160 km on average; - average distance covered by a heavy goods vehicle moving from a plant to a roadworks site = approx. 40 km (resulting in a return trip = approx. 80 km); - load transported each trip = tonnes of material; Based on these assumptions, the model calculates the average annual number of trips, dividing the plant s total annual production by the load limit of tonnes. The figure obtained thus gives us the total number of kilometres covered by the heavy goods vehicles during the relevant year. The annual quantity of CO2 generated by road transport, estimated on the basis of this information, and based on average fuel consumption of 4 km to a litre, was approximately 1,980 tonnes. On the other hand, based on savings in terms of avoided trips as a result of maintenance using cold in-place recycling techniques (the number of trips is obtained by dividing annual production using recycling techniques by the assumed load limit), we then estimated fuel savings and, therefore, CO2 emission savings (approximately 524 tonnes). In order to evaluate the reliability of the results, we also determined the quantity of CO2 emitted as a result of transport making parallel use of COPERT III software. The emission factor proposed by the programme 2, for a motorway trip at an average speed of 80 kph, is grams of fuel per kilometre travelled. This is not, therefore, out of line with the average theoretical consumption communicated by the transport companies (approximately 210 grams of diesel per km). Third phase: Roadwoks To avoid the problem caused by a lack of detailed information on consumption, operating time and technical specifications regarding the machinery used by Pavimental SpA in the laying of road pavements, we took account of three typical groups of machinery, according to the type of work being carried out. The groups of machinery taken into account are as follows (consumption in litres per hour is shown in brackets): The figure for fuel consumption for each machine (in this phase only diesel was taken into account), enables calculation of the average annual quantity of diesel used, based on the total operating time, which is obtained by dividing the total annual production of conglomerate by the average output of a group of machinery. It is important to note that this amount, based on hot conglomerate supplied by plants, is approximately 125 tonnes an hour. On the other hand, if in-place recycling is used, this amount refers to the regenerating machine, including the mill and the recycler, which on average recycle 200 and 240 tonnes an hour, respectively. The final emission quantity was 2 the COPERT emission factor was obtained by averaging fuel consumption for different categories of heavy vehicle. 4

5 calculated by adding the three contributions to fuel consumption from the three types of operation, and converting the total into tonnes of CO2. The contribution to emissions deriving from Pavimental s roadworks site activities was quantified as approximately tonnes. Summary of results A summary of the quantities of CO2 produced and saved in 2011 is provided below. Phase Production of conglomerate (base, binder, wear and tear) CO2 emissions (tonnes) Saving with recycling (tonnes) Transport by lorry from plants to roadworks sites Emissions from roadworks machinery TOTALE In contrast, the contribution to CO2 emissions deriving from Pavimental s activities, as reported in figure above, is different from the total amount shown on the Autostrade per l Italia s Sustainability Report 2011 (approximately tonnes), where electricity consumption has not been taken into account in calculating the emissions resulting from the activities of Pavimental SpA, as this has already been accounted for in calculating Autostrade per l Italia s total indirect emissions. 5

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