Highways England to carry out graphene trials

16/07/2019
Dominic Browne

Highways England has teamed up with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) to 'explore the operational and road user benefit of incorporating graphene into assets such as road surfacing and road markings'.

The outcomes of the partnership could result in stronger, longer lasting materials reducing roadworks and improving road user journeys, and come on the back of successful trials in Italy.

It could also help to drive the development of a low carbon and digital road network.

Isolated at The University of Manchester in 2004 by Professor Sir Andre Geim and Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov, graphene is the world’s first two-dimensional material, many more times stronger than steel, more conductive than copper and one million times thinner than a human hair, the university said.

It also has self-healing properties as its molecules realign after impact.

Adding graphene into maintenance and renewals operations has the potential to extend asset life.

James Baker, chief executive officer for Graphene@Manchester, which leads business-facing development of graphene and 2D materials at The University of Manchester, said: 'This latest partnership is a brilliant example of how graphene can be used to tackle problems faced by most people everyday. This is further enabled by the facilities and capabilities we can provide to our industry partners, that accelerates the many small improvements that ultimately create an optimised product.'

Paul Doney, innovation director at Highways England said: 'We are really excited about the opportunity to explore leading edge materials and what this might lead to for our road network. GEIC is at the forefront, having made the discovery here in Manchester, and by building a collaboration with our operations teams who understand the challenges, we are looking to deliver improved safety and performance of our roads.'

The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) specialises in the rapid development and scale up of graphene and other 2D materials applications. The GEIC is an industry-led innovation centre, designed to work in collaboration with industry partners to create, test and optimise new concepts for delivery to market.

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