Turning Old Asphalt ‘Green’

By Arist E. de Wolff
Wednesday - August 26, 2009
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By Arist E. de Wolff
Superintendent, Alakona Corp.

Every year, thousands of tons of asphalt are removed from Hawaii’s roads and parking lots to sit in our overcrowded landfills. As a family-owned asphalt paving and paving maintenance company, we at Alakona Corp. see firsthand the enormous amount of pavement dug up each year when repairing roads. At the same time, this same amount of virgin rock must then be ripped out of our mountains to create new asphalt-treated base for Hawaii’s new roads and parking lots.

In 2006, my father first heard about a way to recycle this RAP (reclaimed asphalt pavement) and we began researching the Wirtgen company’s KMA 200. This 40-foot, portable machine turns RAP into new, foamed asphalt base that can be used in place of traditional asphalt treated base, the thick layer of stabilizing base that sits just under the asphalt of a road, parking lot or driveway.

As we learned more, we found the process to make this 97 percent recycled material is cold, using less energy and emitting far less pollutants than the process to make asphalt-treated base. Additionally, it can be made and then stored for up to 30 days, unlike hot asphalt that needs to be made and used right away before it cools. In fact, this foamed asphalt-treated base, which we call Green Mix Hawaii, qualifies for LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design) points in two different categories.

The Alakona Corp. crew is on the cutting edge of recycled asphalt

But the best part?

Not only is it good for the environment, but Green Mix Hawaii costs less.

During our extensive research, we learned that this technology has been used worldwide for decades in Europe, Africa and even the Mainland.

In Alaska, Green Mix Hawaii is being used to extend Runway 7 at the Ted Stevens Airport. California’s Department of Transportation has used the process to rehabilitate Highway 20 and I-80, and the City of Los Angeles is using it on city streets. Convinced this could help our fragile island environment, Alakona invested in the $1 million machine and brought it to Hawaii to begin the next phase: testing and permitting. We spent the next two years obtaining our permits and refining the mix to create the most durable recipe using Hawaii’s unique RAP.

Now we are working with the state and the city and county so they can confirm this is not just a viable alternative, but a necessary improvement to help preserve our aina.

As a local company, we feel it imperative to protect and preserve our land and our resources. Green Mix Hawaii is just one way we can do this.

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