Ukrainians make jokes that along with the snow, our roads “descend”. Meanwhile, the issue of road quality and safety is one of the most important for the country’s economy. If there are roads – cargo will arrive at the destination on time, the number of accidents will decrease, the tourist attractiveness of the country will increase.
Today, a team of scientists from the National University “Lviv Polytechnic” led by Mykhailo Bratychak is working to ensure that the roads in our country are strong, smooth and reliable. Their project won the NRFU’s call and received four million eighty-seven thousand funding for two and a half years.
Following a well-trodden path or looking for own one?
Poor quality bitumen softens in summer heat and compresses and cracks in winter. Scientists of the Lviv Polytechnic have set a goal to create such an upper layer, which would be at the same time firm, elastic and had the properties of adhesion.
Scientists began working on this topic before the start of the project.
– When we learned about the NRFU’s call, we immediately decided that we would participate, – says Mykhailo Mykolayovych. – We had a lot of ideas and developments, but we lacked modern equipment, and winning the call would give us the opportunity to buy this equipment and move on.
To work on the project, Mykhailo Bratychak assembled a professional team, which included five young scientists.
“We did brainstorming and started thinking about how and where to move,” says the researcher. – We could go the paved way and try to make the commodity modified bitumen. Most scientists in the world are working in this direction, but young people have suggested: “Let’s try to create a new high-quality binder!”. This is how the idea of chemical modification of bitumen with low molecular weight organic compounds came about.
Experiments have confirmed that the components do react with bitumen and tar compounds to form the desired polymer product.
The idea to modernize existing bitumens with low molecular weight organic compounds is a pioneer, no scientist in the world has worked in this direction. After a series of studies, scientists have applied for a patent for the invention and will soon receive a patent.
High quality and affordable
Scientists perform thorough research on new equipment, which the university purchased with a grant. Previously, for in-depth research, university scientists had to go abroad: the United States, Poland, Germany.
In addition to scientific novelty, the study is of great economic importance, because to modify bitumen, scientists use available and inexpensive components produced in Ukraine, which means that the new roads will be not only reliable but also inexpensive.
Try new cover
Today, scientists are intensively investigating the optimal conditions for the modification of bitumen. They plan to tell about their invention and the first results of their work in the journal “Chemistry & Chemical Technology”. The article is ready for publication and will be published after obtaining a patent. The monograph is also ready in English for publication abroad.
The next stage of work – testing laboratory results into practice. For this purpose, subcontractors were involved in the work, who produce prototypes of asphalt and conduct their testing. After that it will be possible to pass to industrial production.
Scientific youth stays at home
By the way, the results of the project are not only scientific innovations. Importantly, five young scientists were given the opportunity to do a lot of research and get a decent salary.
Scientists hope the new technology, which is currently still in operation in the future will be implemented in production. And in a few years they will be able to race on one of the highways built on the technologies in the development of which they became the pioneers.