Asphalt Research Section
Long Live Asphalt
It’s a given that asphalt should have a long life, but the deterioration of some asphalt laid during a period of rapid growth in Japan has become an issue. Idemitsu develops high-performance asphalt that not only has a long lifespan, it’s also energy efficient and – by reducing the mix temperature during paving – reduces CO2 emissions. Moreover, its resistance to cracking and rut formation keeps paved surfaces safer and smoother. Asphalt and the creation of roads are vital for economic growth and stability. As one of Japan’s leading asphalt manufacturers, we will continue improving the performance and viability of this essential material.
It's a Science
“We want to make it possible for people to travel more comfortably,” says Wu Yueqiao who works in the Asphalt Research Section of the Engineering Project/Business Development Division. Wu is responsible for developing asphalt products to be used primarily in Southeast Asia. He came to Japan on his own after junior high school and eventually earned a graduate degree in science. Now he spends his time developing and testing high-performance, energy-efficient asphalt products that will one day benefit society.
The Southeast Asian Approach
The materials and technologies used to produce asphalt in Japan are not ideal for use in Southeast Asia. The environment, costs, labor, and the availability of raw materials can make the Japanese approach impractical in other regions. It is Wu’s responsibility to develop new formulations and technologies that are better suited to the environment in which they’ll be used. Interestingly, these innovations often make their way back to Japan. “The new processes we develop also benefit Japanese asphalt production,” Wu affirms.
When a new asphalt was introduced to Southeast Asia, a number of problems arose. These involved weather-related issues and differences in construction-engineering capabilities. The experience Wu gained in Japan was not applicable. Working closely with local staff, he resolved the issues one by one. “Laying asphalt is kind of like baking bread,” he later mused. “You can use the same high-quality ingredients, but if the conditions are changed, you won’t get the same result.”
A Driving Force
Research tends to focus on the immediate challenges – on addressing the problems of today. Wu takes a more forward-thinking approach. “I want to conduct research with an eye toward building a better future,” he declares. This outlook, combined with his unique experience and multi-national perspective, has made Wu a driving force in the asphalt business. Each day, more and more people drive on the excellent roads he helped create.