(Top photo from City of Los Angeles)
Sunscreen. For streets!
Of course, a street can’t put on sunscreen itself, so you need a crew for that.
In this case, the crew is in Los Angeles where everybody, and everything it turns out, needs a little protection from the sun.
No, sunburn isn’t a problem for asphalt but staying cool is. And in fact, the brand of protection streets use (and as seen in the photo above) is called CoolSeal.
Asphalt makes an excellent surface for driving on, but it does soak up heat in hot weather (something Los Angeles has plenty of). And when a street gets hot, the neighborhood around that street gets hot too. So in cities, like Los Angeles, with a lot of sun, and a lot of streets that’s a lot of heat.
Dealing with that heat would be an issue in any time even more so in this time of a warming planet. We need solutions to bring down rising temperatures and, particularly in the short term, we need solutions to cope with rising temperatures.
Enter sunscreen for streets. Spread a product like CoolSeal onto the asphalt and the street heat drops by 10 degrees, sometimes even more. Good for drivers and their cars, good for bike riders, good for the neighbors…even for pets. And with close to 2.5 million miles of asphalt-paved roads in the U.S., there are plenty of places to do that good.
Asphalt is made from petroleum, by the way. So the same stuff that makes our cars run, makes the stuff our cars run on, which is a nice twist, we think.
What you may know is that the ClearSeal ingredients also come from petroleum. These high-performance ingredients are called methacrylates and are derived from propylene, a petrochemical building block. There’s a lot of chemistry involved going from petroleum to propylene to acetone to methacrylates, but the important thing to remember is it all starts with one of the “enes.” In this case propylene.
By the way, if you want to read up a bit on the long history of asphalt, and it IS long, you can do that here: What’s black and black and paved all over? (The story is short though.)