World-first rubberised road technique

An innovative road building technique using coagulated rubber, currently in its experimental stage, could result in more durable roads in Malaysia and beyond.

Over the past two years, the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) and Public Works Department (PWD) have been involved in a joint study to determine the effectiveness of using Cuplump Modified Asphalt (CMA) for road construction or resurfacing works.

CMA is a combination of bituminous cuplump—a mixture of freshly coagulated rubber and bitumen—that is added into asphalt, the common composite material used for road surfaces.

Cuplump has also been found to increase the viscosity of the asphalt mixture, making it more resistant to higher temperatures, and preventing cracking of the road surface.

Midday road temperatures can go up to 60° Celcius, which causes conventional road building materials to soften and become uneven. Bituminous cuplump is more heat-resistant compared with conventional bitumen, thus making CMA a more viable alternative for road construction.

Test Sites

Research on CMA are beubg carried out at three road sites in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan; Baling, Kedah; and Temerloh, Pahang.

“Tests are being carried at the sites concerned and in the lab as well,” said PWD senior engineer Roziawati Razali, according to a Bernama report. “So far, we have been receiving positive data (from the CMA study).

“Among the things we’re studying is the structural condition of the road, its resilience and the defects that might appear after the monitoring period.”

When implemented, Malaysia will be the first country in the world to use the CMA technology, according to MRB.

Federal Road FT 001, a 40km road from Kampung Desa Bertemu Jodoh to Kampung Kwong Sai in Segamat, Johor, will be the first route to be given the CMA ‘treatment’ in August 2017, when 10km of the road will be resurfaced using the new rubber technology.

Shot in the arm

The project is also expected to act as a stimulus to the flagging rubber industry, which has been hit by the commodity’s downward price trend in recent years.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas had said that the use of cuplump was expected to increase domestic usage of rubber by 10 percent annually.

Considering that CMA requires an estimated 4.2 tonnes of coagulated rubber for every kilometre of road, wider application of the technology will boost demand for rubber and help to stabilise its price. The cost of road construction using CMA is higher at RM53.60 per metre, compared with RM29.90 a metre using the conventional method.

However, in the long run, CMA roads can prove to be more economical as they are longer lasting and cheaper to maintain. — Construction+ Online