Nu-flex | Can old car tyres really become new walkways?
Essex Highways is constantly trying new techniques, products and tools as innovations that offer good combinations of efficiency, value, durability and usefulness.
Recently in Herongate, Brentwood Essex Highways have been trialling a promising new material to re-build a Public Right of Way. Councillors Kevin Bentley and Louise McKinlay, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, recently met on-site in Louise’s division to watch the process of mixing the material (‘NuFlex’ – www.nu-flex.co.uk) and the crew who were laying it.
A pathway laid with Nu-flex is tough, hard-wearing, provides good grip and is slightly flexible, liked by walkers, runners, horse riders and cyclists alike. One huge advantage is that the material is porous, so even heavy rain just runs straight through, draining into the surrounding grass/soil/gutter, leaving the surface dry and free of ice even in the coldest weather.
Three materials go into the mix: some aggregate (small gravel); polyurethane binder, which holds it all together; and the key ingredient- recycled rubber tyres. The rubber gives much of the grip and flexibility and is very durable. At the moment HGV tyres are used, which are more durable and enable far more rubber to be extracted from each tyre.
NuFlex is laid cold, so the process doesn’t require heating on site, a big advantage over traditional hot asphalt – local pollution may be reduced as a result.
Costs are currently comparable to traditional methods and the councillors saw how fast the specialist crew laid the material, which must be carefully levelled but which then only needs a few hours before it can be walked on.
It has been notoriously hard to find an economical use for used tyres, but careful work in the lab (the amount of binder in the mix is critical) may have found the answer- in these recycling-conscious times a whole new meaning for re-tread?
The councillors were certainly impressed and further trials on other sites in Essex are proposed. If the trials are successful, it may be considered for more widespread use.
For more information about Nu-flex please visit: www.nu-flex.co.uk