UAEU’s ECMR research team develops comprehensive new methodology to assess road projects

Al Ain: A pioneering research project from the Emirates Center for Mobility Research (ECMR) at the United Arab Emirates University, led by Dr. Hamad Al Jassmi and Dr. Umair Hasan, has developed a comprehensive methodology to assess cycle cost of life and the impacts on the durability of the roads. projects, which help decision-makers choose optimal alternatives at a stage where their decisions have implications for infrastructures that would last more than 50 years. The methodology incorporates all aspects of life cycle assessment, including stakeholders (government authorities and users), cost, energy consumption and pollutant emissions over any specified life cycle period, which covers raw material extraction, material production and transport, construction, operation and use (including traffic), maintenance and rehabilitation, and the end-of-life recycling phase.

Findings from this project can help policy makers in the UAE and beyond to optimize the design, operation and end-of-life management of road transport systems and help achieve net zero based on methods scientists. It also proposes strong integration between stakeholder groups to achieve real sustainability. The results of this project have been published as two research articles in the Journal of Cleaner Production, ranked among the top 5% journals in the field of sustainability. This project was the latest addition to ECMR’s efforts to disseminate knowledge to the global society of experts and help advance the field with new methodologies and techniques.

“Roads are by nature a massive expense with a huge environmental footprint. The main environmental loads for road works come from the consumption of materials (hot mix asphalt and cement) during construction and/or maintenance, which effectively impede the realization of a road operation and/or construction. net zero carbon,” said Dr Al Jassmi, Director of the Emirates Center for Mobility. Research says. “To avoid environmental and cost overruns, it is imperative that engineers, planners and decision makers apply optimization techniques across the entire life cycle rather than selecting the cheapest option for initial construction. . Life cycle assessment methodologies assert that economic, social and environmental impacts should be recognized throughout the project life cycle, but its real-world applications are largely limited to European and North American countries and this also for small-scale urban roads.

Dr Hasan, Principal Investigator at the Emirates Center for Mobility Research, explains that “the basic principle of this new methodology works by first identifying the need or missing features in a road transport system, including road and vehicles who use it because of the greater contribution of the latter.Next, he used an integral system of theoretically supported equations to discover the attributes of the road transport system desired by general road users, such as a better design, changes in lane width, provision of a public transport system on the route, etc. – the granted attributes are then standardized based on advice from experts and government authorities. then derives a list of potential alternatives to the road transport system based on an empirical analysis of stakeholder opinions and sets a time period of life cycle. Using industry standard tools such as microsimulation modeling (for vehicle performance assessment) and the Eco invent database for road works, life cycle impacts for the period of life cycle are determined for different alternatives. As a precautionary measure, a secondary stage of expert and governmental objectives is applied to qualitatively and quantitatively rank the alternatives and improve the overall sustainability of the assessed road transport system.

Applying this developed methodology, the ECMR research team modeled the durability performance of the case study highway section in Abu Dhabi. Thanks to a new approach to recycled materials for road works and a dynamic public transport system based on autonomous and demand-responsive vehicles, pollutant emissions have been shown to be potentially reduced by more than 55% with a benefit in terms of projected cost of 51% ($3.65 billion) over 30 years. cycle of life.