Asphalt is more than just a great surface for driveways and roadways. It actually has a ton of other uses – and some of them might surprise you. From propelling rocket ships into space to generating electricity, this one substance can do some pretty incredible and diverse stuff.
- Waterproofing. Most people think of asphalt as a paving material, but it’s actually most often used to make roofing shingles. Though asphalt shingles look great, it’s not just an aesthetic thing – asphalt is actually waterproof. In fact, that was asphalt’s first use, historically. Thousands of years ago, in what’s now Pakistan, the ancient Indus people lined their crop-gathering baskets with asphalt to keep their food from getting wet.
- Rocket Fuel. John Whiteside Parsons achieved a lot in rocket science, but that work is almost overshadowed by his affiliation with the occult and with people like Aleister Crowley and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Let’s cut the guy some slack, though: he did figure out how to use asphalt to make a solid form of rocket fuel.
- Paint. Asphalt is used as pigment in some paint and markers because of its intensely dark color and permanence. Asphalt-based art supplies are particularly popular with graffiti writers for that reason.
- Solar Power. If you’ve ever gone barefoot on a summer day in Atlanta, you know just how hot asphalt can get, and in the 1990s, Dutch engineers figured out a way to harness that heat and turn it into energy. The blacktop acts as a solar panel, absorbing heat from the sun. That solar energy heats metal pipes full of water under the road, and when the hot water passes through a thermoelectric generator, voilà! Electricity. In 2008, Oregon became the first state in the U.S. to have a completely solar-powered highway – all of the lights, signs and tunnel fans are powered by solar energy collected by the asphalt.
Even though asphalt can do all kinds of cool stuff, paving driveways and roadways is what it’s known for. If you’re in Atlanta and you’re in the market for a driveway or parking lot made of this magical material, give Prime Paving Contractors a call.