Malaysia is hoping to implement the construction of rubberised roads on a wider scale in a bid to build more durable roads and boost domestic rubber consumption. While still at the experimental stage at present, the government says that the ongoing study is yielding positive results, and it’s looking like the project will eventually take flight on a broader scale, Bernama reports.

The past two years has seen the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) and Public Works Department (JKR) involved in a joint study to determine the effectiveness of using cup lump modified asphalt (CMA) for road construction or resurfacing works.

Cup lump is naturally-coagulated rubber obtained directly from rubber trees without going through any manufacturing process. Conventional bitumen is then added to the cup lumps and this, when mixed with asphalt, results in CMA.

Tests on CMA are being conducted at three road sites, in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan; Baling, Kedah; and Temerloh, Pahang. The study has been yielding positive results so far, and now a stretch of Federal Road FT 001 will implement CMA in a section of its construction.

A 10 km-long stretch of the 40 km route from Kampung Desa Bertemu Jodoh to Kampung Kwong Sai in Segamat, Johor, is set be resurfaced using CMA, effectively making it the first stretch of road in the country to be resurfaced using the technology. Work is expected to start in August, and the project will mark Malaysia as the first country in the world to use CMA technology, MRB says.

It has been previously reported that rubberised roads are more durable and can bear heavier loads. The new material is also said to be more resistant to higher temperatures than conventional bitumen.

While the cost of road construction using CMA is higher at RM53.60 per metre compared to RM29.90 a metre using the conventional method, long-term maintenance of CMA roads will be cheaper in the long run compared to the tarmac equivalent.

The report adds that with CMA requiring an estimated 4.2 tonnes of coagulated rubber for every kilometre of road, the project is expected to act as a stimulus to the flagging rubber industry and renew the hopes of the 440,000 or so rubber smallholders impacted by the commodity’s weak pricing in recent years.