A sustainable solution to increase the service life of asphalt pavements by harvesting energy from roads

Research output: Contribution to conferencesPaperContributed



The locale climatic conditions have a major impact on asphalt pavement structures. Higher temperatures within the construction lead to a reduction in durability. However, increasing temperatures in conjunction with the large road network possess a huge potential to use asphalt pavements as renewable energy sources. Thus, the use of heat from pavements can extend their service life and contributes to the reduction of fossil energy demands. Including a system of pipes into the binder course could be used to cool the paved road, generate electricity, and keep the pavement ice-free during winter. Two numerical models were developed to investigate the influence of thermal management inside the asphalt pavements. A thermal model was used to simulate the transient temperature distribution within the construction over several years. Characteristic temperature profiles were determined on a longtime scale. These representative temperature profiles where then used to simulate the mechanical behavior under consideration of traffic loads with a FEM model. Based on the results, a fatigue analysis of the road construction was done by using the German mechanistic design methodology (RDO Asphalt 09). It predicts an increased durability if high temperatures are reduced and of the amount of usable heat. This thermal energy can be transformed into electric energy by using an Organic Rankine Cycle with an estimated efficiency of about 4 % to 6 %. A test system was built at the Demonstration, Investigation and Reference Area of the German Federal Highway Research Institute. The main objectives were the examination of new installation technologies for the pipe collector and the implementation of a temperature measurement system inside the road construction. Comparisons were made between simulations and measured results. The mechanical properties of the asphalts were determined experimentally with the cyclic indirect tensile test.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020

External IDs

ORCID /0000-0002-3500-0778/work/142239558


Sustainable Development Goals


  • A sustainable solution to increase the service life of asphalt pavements by harvesting energy from roads