Bexar County using unique asphalt to patch up pothole problems on roads

Bexar County is first in country to use carbon sequestered asphalt on public roads

SAN ANTONIO – Local drivers see pothole issues on our streets every day, and now Bexar County is working on a way for an easier and safer fix on our roads.

Bexar County is the first in the country to use carbon-sequestered asphalt on public roads. The carbon has been stripped from natural gas into asphalt for street use. It’s the first carbon-sequestered asphalt project of its kind, according to Modern Hydrogen.

“We are actually sequestering carbon in asphalt. A lot of people talk about getting CO2 out of the atmosphere, and we’re actually doing it,” said Mothusi Pahl, vice president of Business Development and Government Affairs at Modern Hydrogen.

A KSAT crew got an up-close look at the asphalt in action during a Bexar County Public Works Department demonstration on Old Fredericksburg Road between Ralph Fair Road and Farenthold Circle.

“Natural gas is really a core part of our lives. The problem is that when we burn natural gas, we release a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere. So, modern technology strips the carbon out of natural gas before you burn it, which means that you’ve got a cleaner fuel or decarbonized natural gas — DNG — that you can now burn and use just like you would normal natural gas,” said Pahl. “In our case, we take the carbon that’s removed from natural gas, we process it and it actually makes asphalt stronger.”

Bexar County teamed up with Modern Hydrogen and Road Recyclers for a six-month pilot program. The asphalt will be used to patch up potholes on various public roads. Austin-based Road Recyclers is providing the asphalt for the Bexar County PWD to do this deployment.

“It’s going to last longer, and we won’t have to come out as many times to patch it up. Drivers will have less inconvenience because the road won’t be blocked as much,” said Tony Vasquez, Bexar County Public Works Department Chief. “We will be using the product with no additional cost to the county.”

“What you’re seeing here is the very first time this material has been put down on a public roadway, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been extensively studied. We did mixes, trial runs, made sure it met the established criteria for a patch of this kind,” said Shane McDade, president of Road Recyclers. “Everybody wants to look at cost savings. Everybody has to look at speed and constructability of a way to maintain their roads.”

Crews will have months to lay down and evaluate the asphalt, but Vasquez said there is no indication it will not be used after that time frame.

“We’re always trying new products that are eco-friendly, that will help the environment and help air quality,” said Vasquez.

“You can get a stronger road with a lower CO2 footprint and do it at the same price. That’s a slam dunk for everybody,” said Pahl.


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About the Authors:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.