In 2016, Building Z opened on UAntwerpen's Groenenborger Campus, the new home of future industrial engineers. In the fall of 2017, the final touches were put on the environmental construction around the building, which includes the construction of a bicycle path.

The research group EMIB, whose Road Engineering Research Section specializes in infrastructure works and asphalt pavements, took the opportunity to apply and demonstrate some innovative techniques during the construction of the bike path.


HEAL - Asphalt solar collector

Heat Exchanging Asphalt Layers (HEAL) is a technique in which we extract energy from the asphalt road surface. Pipes are placed in the asphalt, and water flows through these pipes. This water absorbs energy in both summer (heat) and winter (cold). We store the energy gained in the soil and pump it back up when required. In this way we can cool the asphalt during the summer and heat it up during the winter to keep the road surface free of snow and ice. The expected energy yield per year is between 0.5 and 0.8 GJ/m². We use about 20% of this energy in the asphalt road surface itself. The other 80% we can use in nearby buildings.

To control the HEAL system, we use the Programmable Logic Controller system from Beckhoff. With it, we read the placed sensors and control the actuators. Through smart programming, we can use sensors in a loop to control specific actuators to maintain a self-selected state in the road surface. For example, we control the flow rate of the water in the collector system by the temperature of the asphalt at the center of the road surface. For each state we set, it is possible to remotely log the experimental results and control the actuators more closely.

Fibre mix in asphalt

The top layer of the cycling pavement is made from asphalt in which a fibre mix is added.

Fibre Bragg Gratings

De Fibre Bragg Grating (FBG) is an optical sensor that can measure deformations very accurately and is already used in other fields. The application of FBG in CyPaTs allows the research group to collect data as well as perform, analyze and optimize the placement. Occasionally, we will perform plate tests at the level of the FBGs to generate a sufficient load.

ROAD_IT - Efficient process management through the intelligent use of IT in (asphalt) road construction

The ROAD_IT system ensures the transfer and archiving of data generated by the production, transport and processing of asphalt pavements. For example, we use an application that monitors transport in real time, and we place an infrared scanner on the asphalt machine that records the temperature of the asphalt.


The PQI380 is a non-nuclear, non-destructive density meter that allows us to determine the density of asphalt. During the construction of the bike path, we perform measurements for each layer, both during rolling and after complete compaction. Special attention is paid to the temperature dependence of the results. For this purpose, we carry out measurements at the same place during the cooling process.