Local News

Capital Idea Paving the Way for a Cleaner Environment

Posted November 18, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST

— It might seem we've just recently focused on making products that are safe for the environment. But a Triangle company has been in that business for 20 years.

One of Chemtek's newest solutions could literally change the paving industry. It's a Capital Idea that washes away asphalt without ruining our water supply.

We use asphalt for our roads for a reason: it's hard, sticks together well and doesn't wash away.

Once it's on the road, great. But what makes the black, sticky substance so useful for our highways makes it difficult for workers building the roads.

"Shoveling asphalt, raking asphalt, it's on their equipment, it's on their trucks," says David Elam. "They need a way to clean that equipment off the trucks very quickly out in the field."

For the past 20 years, the way to clean asphalt has been to use diesel fuel which is illegal, but cheap and effective. Hundreds of gallons of fuel a day across the state are dumped this way on the ground and threaten our water supply.

"We want to be able to help these guys get a product that works for them plus is friendly to the environment," says Elam.

Elam saw the need for an alternative cleaner and helped develop one calledPavePro.

"If that were diesel fuel, I would have just violated EPA regulations by spilling that on the ground," says Elam. "But because this is PavePro, there's no violation of the regulations because it's completely biodegradable and completely non-hazardous."

Some highway crews use a cleaner made of orange oils, but it's very flammable and considered a hazardous waste.

PavePro uses the cleansing power of oranges and combines it with coconut and other natural by-products to get the benefits without the fire hazard.

Chemist Dr. Michael Kinnaird found the right combination.

"This problem that we're solving is an invisible problem," says Kinnaird. "People don't even really understand that it's there. There are literally hundreds or thousands of gallons of diesel fuel and hazardous orange products spilled on the ground every day in North Carolina. And most people don't realize it because it's not biting them."

The EPA can impose a fine of $10,000 to anyone caught dumping diesel fuel. Problem is, it's rarely enforced. That's because before now, nothing has been available to do the job that meets EPA requirements.

That's why Chemtek thinks PavePro will change the industry standard when it comes to cleaning asphalt.