Published on 02/06/2021
Potholes Research Aston


•     Joint research project will combine effort and expertise of pavement engineers, material scientists and computational fluid dynamics experts

•     Project to look at improving quality, longevity and accessibility of the highway network

•     Aston University will be working with University of Nottingham and seven other industrial partners including Highways England and the Road Surface Treatment Association


A project which will be the driving force behind the redesigning of roads and changes in road repairs could revolutionise the way potholes are repaired, and road surfaces are designed.

The three-year collaboration, ‘Prevention and Management of Road Surface Damage’, is being led by Mujib Rahman, professor in civil engineering, Department of Civil Engineering at Aston University and Dr Nick Thom of the University of Nottingham.

The project will combine the efforts and expertise of pavement engineers, material scientists and computational fluid dynamic experts from both universities.

The research aims to improve the design and construction of roads to minimise surface damage caused by water freezing and thawing, and general wear and tear from traffic. It also will be looking at how to change the science behind road repairs and maintenance.

Research will be looking at two main elements:

-     Enable the design of roads to prevent surface damage from water and environmental factors

-     Introduce a change in the management of road repair and create a more durable repair of the road surface.

Professor Rahman said that smoother roads were critical to the nation as the 250,000 miles of paved road, valued at £750 billion, which is the network for deliveries of goods and services across the UK.

But he added potholes and damage to roads had become ‘increasingly problematic’ for all users.

“We want to drive out the pothole epidemic that has overcome the UK in recent years. Due to record breaking rainfall, extreme cold weather and tight financial constraints on highway authorities, this situation has become much worse. This has been combined with the lack of longevity in some repairs” he said.

Dr Nick Thom, from the Nottingham Transportation Engineering Centre Research Group, said: “The expected deliverables are material specifications and maintenance guidelines designed – like a Covid vaccine – to stop this disease of the road in its tracks. In the main this will be about doing better with currently-used resources, but, given the expected slump in future oil production with consequent loss of bitumen supplies, the search will also be on for alternative viable high-performance products.”

The project has been funded by Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) and will be running until March 2024. Supporting it will also be ADEPT, Highways England, Transport for London, Nottinghamshire County Council, Cooper Technology and the Road Surface Treatment Association (RSTA).

For more details about the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Aston University, visit this link

Notes to Editors

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long-established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston University was named University of the Year 2020 by The Guardian and the University’s full time MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking. The Aston MBA has been ranked 12th in the UK and 85th in the world. The University also has TEF Gold status in the Teaching Excellence Framework. 

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The University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. The University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its status as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.


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