Published On: Wed, Jun 7th, 2017

Malaysia to be the First Country to Use New Rubberized Road Technique

Malaysia to be the First Country to Use New Rubberized Road Technique: – 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 which will make the roads more durable and at the same time, a much-needed shot in the arm for the local rubber industry.

Cuplump is freshly coagulated rubber, where the coagulation process takes place in the cup at the tree with no manufacturing process being involved; CMA is a mixture of bituminous cuplump and asphalt, which is a composite material that is mainly used for the paving of road surfaces.

This will be a possible scenario in the country in the near future if an innovative road building technique using coagulated rubber, currently in the experimental stage, is implemented on a wide scale.

According to MRB, the study has been yielding positive results so far and when implemented, Malaysia will be the first country in the world to use the CMA technology.

Federal Road FT 001, a 40km road from Kampung Desa Bertemu Jodoh to Kampung Kwong Sai, is set to create history – 10km of the route will be given the CMA “treatment”, making it the first stretch of road in the country to be resurfaced using the coagulated rubber technology. Work on this project is expected to start in August.

The project is also expected to act as a stimulus to the flagging rubber industry and renew the hopes of the 440,000 or so rubber smallholders who have been impacted by the commodity’s downward price trend in recent years.

Considering that CMA requires an estimated 4.2 tonnes of coagulated rubber for every kilometer of road, wider application of the technology will boost demand for rubber and help to stabilize its price.

MRB and JKR had signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) in June 2015 to undertake joint research on the use of coagulated rubber or cuplump as an additional material in asphalt for road construction purposes.

At the signing ceremony, 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.

The MoA saw the two agencies carrying out research on CMA at three road sites in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan; Baling, Kedah; and Temerloh, Pahang.

PWD senior engineer Roziawati Razali said that the study was still underway and the sites were being monitored closely by the authorities.

Tests are being carried at the sites concerned and in the lab as well. So far, they have been receiving positive data from the CMA study.

To produce CMA, the coagulated rubber (fresh cuplump) from the tree has to be mixed with bitumen to produce bituminous cuplump (BC). The BC is then mixed with conventional bitumen to produce cuplump modified bitumen and when asphalt is added to this mixture, CMA is produced.

However, the cost of road construction using CMA is higher at RM53.60 per metre, compared with RM29.90 a metre using the conventional method. But in the long run, CMA roads can prove to be more economical as they will last longer and are cheaper to maintain as well.

Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said that among the things they are studying is the structural condition of the road, its resilience and the defects that might appear after the monitoring period.

Fadillah said that the lab tests on CMA had so far produced positive results. According to other reports, the CMA technology has proven to improve the resilience and durability of roads in terms of resistance to cracking of the road surface.

Cuplump has also been found to increase the viscosity of the asphalt mixture, thus rendering it more resistant to higher temperatures.

During midday the road temperature can go up to 60°C and the heat can cause conventional road building materials to soften and render the road surface uneven, more so if a lot of heavy vehicles ply the route.

On the other hand, bituminous cuplump is more heat-resistant as its softening point temperature is higher than that of conventional bitumen, thus making it (CMA) a more viable alternative for road construction.

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