Graphene is to be trialled on the A1 to see if it will prolong the lifespan of road surfaces.

National Highways will be using the material on a three mile stretch of the northbound carriageway between Newton on the Moor and West Cawledge, just south of Alnwick. 

Graphene, which is only one atom thick, could increase the operational life of key road features “by a number of years”. In turn, this would limit the amount of roadworks needed and lead to “smoother” journeys on the road.

Road works being conducted at night
Graphene will be trialled on a section of the A1.

Graphene is a strong, conductive and flexible that is only a single sheet of carbon atoms. The material is strong, conductive and flexible. It already appears in a wide range of applications, which range from aerospace engineering to digital electronics and biomedicine. 

The trials are being carried out with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) at The University of Manchester and Pavement Testing Services (PTS).

The northbound carriageway is to be closed 24/7 while the work is conducted, with one lane open in each direction as the traffic goes in contraflow on the southbound carriageway. There will also be a number of crossovers closed.

National Highways Asset Needs Manager Graeme Watt said: “This is an exciting time for National Highways. We are constantly striving to improve the journeys of our customers and graphene has real potential to do that. ” 

“Laboratory trials have been a success and the on-site trials in Northumberland will be a world first use of graphene in road production, which enforces our commitment to innovation and helps to push the industry towards more carbon-friendly maintenance with longer-lasting solutions which we all benefit from.”

“Graphene’s benefits are industry-changing. It’s stronger than steel and adding it to other materials can turn them into super materials. From what we’ve seen so far, it could make some of our assets last significantly longer.”

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