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Running off fumes

June 10, 2015

A new system improves the daily work environment of asphalt paver operators.

Young man, close-up, profile (grainy, B&W)

There’s nothing quite like the smell of fresh asphalt, is there? But road workers are confronted with it all day. New technology is helping to make their work more comfortable.

Asphalt is a complex mixture consisting of paraffinic and aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic compounds containing sulphur, nitrogen and oxygen. Emissions from heated asphalts include both vapors and fumes – particles created by condensation from the gaseous state after volatilization – which are typically one micrometer or less in diameter. To control the movement of small particles, one must control the motion of the air in which they are suspended.

That’s why a sophisticated fume extraction system has been developed for asphalt work at the source, integrated into the pavers. On Atlas Copco’s Dynapac SD2500 and SD2550 large tracked pavers, the optional installation includes a large fan positioned over the paver tracks. It sucks up the fumes and pulls them forward, in front of the hopper containing the asphalt. Also, the operator cab is now enclosed for even further protection.

The American National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) requires 80% indoor capture efficiency for hot mix asphalt pavers. The Dynapac range was tested in July 2012, and achieved 94.3% efficiency.

A new initiative from the French national health insurance fund provides financial help for small and medium-sized enterprises to upgrade the equipment they need. For example, in February 2013 the Alsace-Moselle Retirement and Occupational Health Insurance Fund (Carsat), a state-run organization which is part of the health insurance network, helped fund a fume extraction system on a new paver for Pontiggia, an Alsace-based road builder which employs 180 people.

“We were delighted to benefit from this program, which funded 97% of the price tag of the fume extractor option on our new Atlas Copco Dynapac paver,” says Thomas Neeb, CEO of Pontiggia. He adds, “Without the scheme, we would have gone for the extractor option anyway, but it’s very helpful to smaller companies like ours to have such financial support from the state; it demonstrates a very forward-thinking approach.” Pontiggia has also equipped some of its fleet with reversing cameras, paid for in part by Carsat to further improve safety. Neeb notes that initially there was some resistance from Pontiggia’s workforce regarding the new pavers. “People tend not to like change, and they were concerned about having to work in an enclosed cab, which they thought might restrict them,” he says. “But they soon realized the benefits of such a system, and they wouldn’t go back to the old way now.”

Bob Kegelaers, Regional Business Line Manager, Road Construction Equipment for Atlas Copco in France, says the demand for fume extractors on pavers first came from big players such as Colas and Eurovia, but smaller companies are now coming on board. “For them, it represents an important investment, which is why programs like Carsat’s are extremely important,” he says.

Demand for fume extraction systems is growing in France. Atlas Copco has been offering the option since early 2013, and Kegelaers notes that this year about 20% of all new orders will be equipped with it. “This is the future of road building in France,” he says.

“They were concerned about having to work in an enclosed cab … they wouldn’t go back to the old way now.”

Thomas Neeb, CEO, Pontiggia

DRIVER COMFORT

The Atlas Copco Dynapac SD paver range, which features a fume suction system option, was designed with the operator in focus.

Pavers Safety Europe Health Corporate responsibility Research and development France Fume extractors Construction