What Is Porous Asphalt?

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Asphalt has paved the way for years, but it hasn't always been the most optimal material for roadways. If your car has ever been in danger of hydroplaning down the highway because of gathering pools of water during a rainstorm, you've experienced one of the major problems. Luckily, porous asphalt is the reigning solution.

According to the National Asphalt Pavement Association, porous asphalt has been proving its worth since the mid-1970s. It provides a means for developers and planners to manage storm water.

How It Works

Porous asphalt is primarily used for parking lots. Its natural water-sucking ability allows any water hitting it to safely drain through it to an underbelly of stone and finally into the soil below. It makes an amazing improvement over pavements that flood with every afternoon shower.

Believe it or not, the technology behind porous asphalt is incredibly simple. It's all a matter of engineering.

First, the actual pavement is designed to conduct water, much like a sponge but without the squishiness. Then, it is laid atop a stone bed, the perfect conduit for filtering water to the soil below. The secret is in preparation. The stone bed needs to be deep enough to ensure a rising water level will never reach the asphalt.

A Pollution Solution

The science behind porous asphalt does more than eliminate unwanted standing water; it's also a solution for pollution. Rainfall naturally sinks into the soil where it filters downward, eventually ending up in other bodies of water. In high-pollution areas, rainfall becomes runoff and quickly contributes to flooding.

Porous asphalt provides an automatic filtering system. It is made of an all-natural material and its engineering allows water to naturally filter down into the soil, sending it on its way to bodies of water. This filtration process helps keep contaminants, like oil, from reaching streams and lakes by sending it through the same process nature uses for rainwater in other areas.

A Cost Effective Alternative

Porous asphalt also provides a cost effective alternative. Its yard-by-yard cost is equal to traditional asphalt with its only additional expense being a usually thicker stone bed. And since it was created to fit into a site's topography, less digging and prep work are required.

Although porous asphalt can sometimes require extra maintenance to keep its filtration system in optimal working order, it is a worthy replacement to older, more traditional pavement. It is, and will likely continue to be, the best asphalt option for future infrastructure.  

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