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Boeing commits $212K to research on heavy-duty permeable pavements

Sources: Boeing Co., Seattle; CP staff

Aerospace and aircraft giant Boeing is teaming with Washington State University (WSU), and the Washington Stormwater Center to develop stronger permeable concrete or asphalt pavement through the use of carbon fiber composite material recycled from a Seattle assembly line. A $212,000 grant and material donation will spur investigations at the WSU Research and Extension Center, Puyallup, and WSU Pullman campus.

“Creating the opportunity to expand the use of permeable pavement is good for the environment and the communities in which we live and work,” notes Boeing Environment, Health & Safety Vice President Ursula English. “Water is one of our most precious resources, and we need to treat it as such."

Investigators will recycle carbon fiber composites to strengthen and reinforce porous pavement material, which is used in parking lots and side roads, but lacks structural characteristics for typical mainline roadways. Sample pavement sections will then be evaluated for toxicity—confirming the composite material does not add pollutants into the soil or impact water quality.

"If we find that this material safely strengthens permeable pavement, resulting in an increase in its use, this could be a game changer in terms of reducing the impact of pollutants in stormwater on the environment,” affirms Washington Stormwater Center Director John Stark.

Boeing’s participation in the research stems partly from the Environmental Protection Agency’s categorization of the permeable pavement as a best management practice for stormwater. Likewise, Washington State requires that low-impact development—employing techniques used to manage stormwater runoff from landscaping after a storm—be used wherever feasible in western Washington.

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