What’s black and black and paved all over?

Fuels |  < 1 min. read

We’ve got more than 2.7 million miles of paved roads in the U.S. More than 90 percent of those roads, are paved with asphalt.

And here are two things about that asphalt, you might not know:

Asphalt is made from oil.  Not a lot of it, but the bitumen made from oil is the essential ingredient that holds all the other ingredients together (those other ingredients being mostly sand and stone and gravel).

And, asphalt is recyclable.  Very recyclable.  When a street needs repaving, you grind off the old asphalt pavement, and you can use all of the old, to make new asphalt pavement (and almost all of it is reused).

Alright, since those were short – here’s a bonus fact about asphalt:  It’s been around a long time.  The asphaltologists at the National Asphalt Pavement Association, report it was first used to build roads in Babylon.  Ancient Babylon – around 2600 hundred years ago.

(And if you’re hunting through a college catalog looking for the Asphaltology Department – ok, we just invented that.)

Various twists, turns and 2500 years or so later – and we have our paved roads of today.  That history, by the way, includes the legacy of John McAdam, who came pretty close to the making of the modern road, and gave his name to “macadam”, which had the rocks and the gravel, but not the asphalt, and which was the top-of-the-line in the early 1800s.

Our asphalt roads date back to the 1920s, though hopefully your roads have been resurfaced since then.

And the same oil that makes those asphalt roads possible, also probably makes it possible for your car to drive on them.  Kinda cool.