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A comparative life-cycle assessment of asphalt mixtures for railway sub-ballast containing alternative materials

Bressi, Sara; Santos, Joao; Giunta, Marinella; Pistonesi, Lavinia; Lo Presti, Davide


Sara Bressi

Joao Santos

Marinella Giunta

Lavinia Pistonesi

Davide Lo Presti


Bituminous sub-ballast in railway track-bed can mitigate the variation of the moisture content in the subgrade and reduce vertical stiffness variations of the track leading to a more durable infrastructure. Nevertheless, durability is only one of the aspects that affects the sustainability of an infrastructure. Other relevant aspects are related to the environmental and economic issues. This research work joins the worldwide effort towards a paradigm shift in civil engineering devoted to assess the sustainability of infrastructures at the design stage. With this in mind, in this study different alternative bituminous sub-ballast mixtures containing recycled materials, namely crumb rubber (CR) and reclaimed asphalt pavements (RAP) were compared by means of the results of a Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA). In comparison with a traditional bituminous sub-ballast the Crumb Rubber Modified (CRM) mixtures showed higher impacts due to the treatment of the rubber as well as the higher amount of bitumen employed in the mixture. In turn, when RAP is used, the LCA results report an improvement of all the indicators considered. The reduction of the impacts is even higher when full blending between the aged and the virgin binder is assumed because it allows reducing the amount of virgin bitumen employed. The results are intended to be used by engineering experts and practitioners to make more assertive judgments on the advantages and disadvantages associated with the use of emerging and commonly called sustainable strategies and practices for railway track-bed. © 2018 Elsevier B.V.


Bressi, S., Santos, J., Giunta, M., Pistonesi, L., & Lo Presti, D. (2018). A comparative life-cycle assessment of asphalt mixtures for railway sub-ballast containing alternative materials. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 137, 76-88. doi:10.1016/j.resconrec.2018.05.028

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 28, 2018
Online Publication Date Jun 5, 2018
Publication Date Oct 30, 2018
Deposit Date Dec 10, 2018
Print ISSN 0921-3449
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 137
Pages 76-88
Keywords Bituminous mixtures; Crumb rubber; Environmental sustainability; Life-cycle assessment; Reclaimed asphalt pavements
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