A Midland engineer has scooped an industry award for her pioneering work on using chip fat to help reduce the carbon footprint of Britain’s road building industry.
Helen Bailey, research manager at quarrying and construction company Aggregate Industries, was awarded the Fiona and Nicholas Hawley Excellence in Environmental Engineering Award 2009 by The Worshipful Company of Engineers.
She has developed a solution using waste vegetable oil to achieve the same key properties as bitumen to bind asphalt mix without a loss of performance in the asphalt.
A prototype of her process is being trailed by Aggregate Industries.
Ms Bailey said: “The asphalt industry produces approximately 25 million tonnes of asphalt every year, requiring about 1.25 million tonnes of bitumen.
“This comes at a significant environmental and economic cost, as the whole process relies on expensive imported hydrocarbons.
“I wanted to find an alternative with the same key properties as bitumen in the asphalt mix, using a waste product readily available within the UK. The solution I developed complies with UK Standards for asphalt whilst reducing the carbon footprint in resultant products.”
Ms Bailey was presented with the Hawley Award and a cheque for £5,000 at the Worshipful Company of Engineers’ Annual Awards Dinner in London. She plans to use the prize-money to fund an educational trip to Japan to present her paper at the International Conference on Asphalt in August 2010. Ms Bailey is studying for a PhD in engineering at The University of East London, supported by her employer.