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Billion dollar pothole problem might have a simple solution

Damaged roads with gaping potholes from freezing winter time temperatures--that later thaw in springtime and crack when they expand--are a billion dollar problem for both local and federal government agencies. Not to mention the annoyance and money spent by any Ohioan who’s ever hit a pothole and damaged a tire from the dreaded concrete pits.
But help is on the way, according to Dr. Sang-Soo Kim of Ohio University, who thinks he’s come up with the solution that he now sells commercially through his company EZ Asphalt Technology LLC, founded in 2007.

Kim, an associate professor of civil engineering at the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, has developed a method of testing asphalt binder--the sealant used to help repair highways that is highly susceptible to cold weather--called Asphalt Binder Cracking Device (ABCD). The device can be used by highway engineers to more accurately determine an asphalt’s cracking temperature, leading to stronger roads that don’t need repairs as often.

“People like this because it is a simple process,” says Kim of the commercially viable testing device that will give the asphalt industry a new standard for testing road surfaces.

The testing works by placing asphalt binder material in the ABCD ring and then cooling the device in a refrigerator chamber. A computer monitor attached to the ABCD ring shows the exact temperature where the binder begins to crack, giving accurate measurement of how it would perform on a real road, says Kim. The knowledge would lead to improved pavement structure that would help lessen the number of potholes in the road.

Kim worked with Enterprise Appalachia to bring his idea to market after receiving a grant from the Federal Highway Administration.

He estimates that his company will grow rapidly as it reaches out to 2,500 potential customers in six market segments in both the U.S. and Canada.
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