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A comparative life-cycle assessment of asphalt mixtures for railway sub-ballast containing alternative materials
- Bressi, Sara, Santos, Joao, Giunta, Marinella, Pistonesi, Lavinia, Lo Presti, Davide
- Resources, conservation, and recycling 2018 v.137 pp. 76-88
- bitumen, civil engineering, durability, life cycle assessment, mixing, pavements, railroads, recycled materials, rubber, water content
- Bituminous sub-ballast in railway track-bed can mitigate the variation of the moisture content in the subgrade and reduce vertical stiffness variations of the track leading to a more durable infrastructure. Nevertheless, durability is only one of the aspects that affects the sustainability of an infrastructure. Other relevant aspects are related to the environmental and economic issues. This research work joins the worldwide effort towards a paradigm shift in civil engineering devoted to assess the sustainability of infrastructures at the design stage. With this in mind, in this study different alternative bituminous sub-ballast mixtures containing recycled materials, namely crumb rubber (CR) and reclaimed asphalt pavements (RAP) were compared by means of the results of a Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA). In comparison with a traditional bituminous sub-ballast the Crumb Rubber Modified (CRM) mixtures showed higher impacts due to the treatment of the rubber as well as the higher amount of bitumen employed in the mixture. In turn, when RAP is used, the LCA results report an improvement of all the indicators considered. The reduction of the impacts is even higher when full blending between the aged and the virgin binder is assumed because it allows reducing the amount of virgin bitumen employed. The results are intended to be used by engineering experts and practitioners to make more assertive judgments on the advantages and disadvantages associated with the use of emerging and commonly called sustainable strategies and practices for railway track-bed.