Skip to Content
77 Mass Ave

Stiff roads save fuel

Simple paving changes could significantly reduce emissions from trucking.
road through forest
Unsplash

Making road surfaces stiffer could improve trucks’ fuel efficiency enough to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the transportation sector at little to no cost, a study by MIT engineers has found.

According to Randolph Kirchain, PhD ’99, principal research scientist in the Materials Research Laboratory, driving on a softer road is energy-intensive in the same way as walking on sand. He and his coauthors, MIT postdoc Hessam Azarijafari and research scientist Jeremy Gregory, SM ’00, PhD ’04, say there are several ways to make roadways stiffer: add a small amount of synthetic fibers or carbon nanotubes to asphalt, use a denser overall mix with more rock and less binder, or switch from asphalt to concrete, which is already common in many northern US states.

If 10% of road surfaces were improved each year, they calculated, a total of 440 megatons of emissions would be avoided over 50 years, which is about 0.5% of total transportation-related emissions for that period.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.