• Services

Promoting the use of recycled aggregates in construction and demolition

Valoriza and Surge Ambiental (Sacyr Green) are spearheading an initiative that aims to provide a solution to construction and demolition waste. 

Introducing Valrec: a project that aims to promote the circular economy and improve the recovery and recyclability of these materials, while minimizing the amount relegated to landfills. 

Comprised of nine companies and three research centers and funded by the Community of Madrid, Valrec is a circular economy project designed to promote the re-use of construction and demolition waste. 

“At the moment, the process is very linear. Aggregates are extracted from mines, the concrete is manufactured, and they are mixed with other elements in the dismantling phase and taken to landfills. The Valrec project and its members aim to make the economy system more circular, emphasizing the need to encourage the use of recycled aggregates, sorting at the source, and digitization,” explains Juan Diego Berjón, head of Waste Treatment Services at Surge Ambiental.

Royal Decree 646/2020 of July 7, regulating landfill waste disposal, establishes three types of waste: inert, hazardous, and non-hazardous. The new waste law increases taxation on all waste at the time of recycling. At present, however, in many cases, outright disposal is more advantageous than recycling. 

“Our aim with the Valrec project is to give value to waste and avoid landfills. Inert waste should not be dumped in landfills; it can be recycled 100%. The current problem is construction’s waste management model, where landfill is the cheapest option because it does not involve sorting. Everything is mixed together and tossed,” says Berjón.
 

 

While not logged in Spain, natural aggregate is a limited resource. If we do not recycle and extract natural aggregates from waste, we will end up depleting this natural resource. 

The new Law 7/2022, on waste and contaminated soils for a circular economy, favors the circular economy as it requires recycling 10% of the waste generated. The Valrec project aims to capitalize on this situation.

“Waste contains products and byproducts that we were uninterested in until now, but with finite raw materials, we could have a supply problem in the future. That’s why it is so important to separate waste and extract the raw materials to recycle and revalorize them,” Berjón explains.

In the Community of Madrid there is a large quantity of recycled aggregates that are not in high demand and, thus, wind up in landfills. Valrec is the ideal solution to address this problem, generating an industrial fabric and green jobs around the recycling of construction and demolition waste. 

The Valrec consortium consists of Surge Ambiental and Valoriza—both part of the Sacyr Group—Allgaier Mogensen, Adcore, Sika, Sodira, Hormicruz, Kolokium, and the Green Building Council-Spain (GBCe). It also has support from the Tecnalia technological research and development center, the Eduardo Torroja Institute of Construction Sciences (IETcc), and the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM). 

The project has an execution budget of 5 million euros and a duration of 24 months. Valrec is subsidized by the 2020 call for aid to improve public-private cooperation in R&D in areas of strategic importance to the Madrid economy on tractor projects developed by open innovation hubs within the Regional Research Strategy for Smart Specialization (RIS3).
 

  • Waste
  • Building

Some food supplies are hanging by a thread due to the invasion of Ukraine. Credit: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

  • Tungsteno

The keys to averting a global food crisis

The invasion of Ukraine has helped fuel a global food crisis that could last for years if left unchecked, according to the United Nations. While millions of people are already suffering the consequences, several powers are looking to technology to combat the hunger that inevitably follows wars.

ISABEL RUBIO ARROYO | Tungsteno

 

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has brought the world to the brink of an unprecedented global food crisis. The situation, fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, rising fuel prices and climate change, could lead to "hell on earth if we don't respond immediately," according to David Beasley, director of the World Food Programme, a branch of the United Nations. We look at the real scale of the problem and how technology promises to help alleviate the crisis.

A threat to the world's food supply

Even before the invasion of Ukraine began, food and fertiliser prices were reaching record highs. "Between 2019 and March 2022, cereal prices increased by 48%, fuel prices by 86% and fertiliser prices by 35%," Derek Headey and Kalle Hirvonen, researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), told The Conversation. According to the World Bank, as of 29 July 2022, the Agricultural Price Index was 19% higher than in January 2021. Maize and wheat prices increased by 16% and 22%, respectively, in the same period.

Ukraine and Russia produce a combined total of 14% of the world's wheat and 30% of wheat exports, as well as 60% of all sunflower oil, according to an editorial in the reputable scientific journal Nature. Russia is also responsible for 13% of the world's fertiliser and 11% of oil exports.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has put the world on the brink of an unprecedented global food crisis. Credit: The Economist.

Catastrophic impact on the most vulnerable

Supplies of these and other products are hanging by a thread because of the situation facing Ukrainian farmers and Russia's suspensions of exports and fertilisers. Other countries have also been forced to restrict food exports, contributing to inflation. In recent weeks, Ukraine and Russia have taken steps to end the blockade on Ukrainian grain exports. Under a UN-backed deal, the two countries have agreed to create a corridor for grain trapped in Ukraine to pass through ports to global markets without being attacked by the Russian navy. The first grain ships sailed from Ukrainian Black Sea ports during the first week of August.

The impact of this crisis may be particularly catastrophic for some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. At least 26 countries, including Somalia, Senegal and Egypt, depend on Russia or Ukraine for between 50% and 100% of their wheat. IFPRI researchers say that, in addition, farmers in many parts of Africa struggle to access fertiliser, even at inflated prices, because of transport and currency exchange problems. "If the war continues, many countries already saddled with pandemic debt could be forced to borrow more to subsidise staple foods, creating more hardship," says the editorial published in Nature.

Ukraine and Russia have been trying to reach an agreement to end the blockade on Ukrainian grain exports. Credit: DW News.

Technology to alleviate the food crisis

To alleviate the crisis, the World Bank plans to invest $30 billion to boost food and fertiliser production, improve food systems, facilitate increased trade and support vulnerable households and producers. In 2021, before the Russian invasion, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that the massive use of technological tools can help avert food crises. "Better technology and data means we now have the tools to better understand - and predict - crises and their impact," the agency said.

Now various powers are looking for ways to use all the data from all these technological tools to anticipate and try to reverse the effects of the food crisis. Headey and Hirvonen believe that "major grain producers must do everything they can to increase food supply". To do so, they suggest resolving logistical bottlenecks, freeing up stocks and resisting the temptation to impose restrictions on food exports.

Technological advances promise to help farmers optimise their harvests and prevent crop losses. Around 90% of crop losses are due to weather events and 25% of these losses could be avoided by using weather forecast-based predictive modelling on farms, according to the consulting firm EOS Intelligence. In addition, there are devices that can constantly monitor soil fertility, temperature and humidity conditions or the optimal time for sowing and harvesting. There are also devices that can programme the application of chemicals on fields and analyse irrigation requirements.

Technology can help farmers optimise their harvests and prevent crop losses. Credit: Unsplash.

Fighting the hunger that follows wars

One of the challenges now is to set a roadmap to increase the resilience of nations to hunger following wars. Some believe that policy measures should be implemented to reduce the dependence of countries on food imports., even if that means making choices that may harm the environment. For example, according to Nature, one alternative would be to cut down forests so that more cereals and crops can be grown closer to domestic markets.

On the other hand, others advocate taking advantage of the situation to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable future. Intensive agriculture not only contributes to biodiversity loss, but also generates high greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, one third of all food produced globally is lost in the production chain or wasted once it reaches households. Some technologies can help improve harvesting and storage methods to reduce these losses.

More research is still needed to determine the impact of these alternatives in combating the hunger that follows wars. For now, millions of people living far from the war in Ukraine are already suffering from this global food crisis. If the conflict continues and sufficient action is not taken urgently, the consequences could be catastrophic. Some economists estimate that by the end of 2022 there could be between 100 and 150 million more acutely hungry people in the world. As Ertharin Cousin, former director of the United Nations World Food Programme, says, "each day that this goes forward, each planting season that we miss, each opportunity for moving food from one part of the world to another that we miss, the more challenging the problem becomes."

 

· — —
Tungsteno is a journalism laboratory to scan the essence of innovation. Devised by Materia Publicaciones Científicas for Sacyr’s blog.

  • Farming
  • Natural resources

Ukraine uses satellite imagery to detect possible war crimes. Credit: Maxar Technologies.

  • Tungsteno

This is how satellites fight the war in Ukraine

Hundreds of satellites gather information from the sky about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Some can even track troop movements at night and detect tanks hidden under trees. They are used to plan strategies, detect possible war crimes and track refugee flows.

ISABEL RUBIO ARROYO | Tungsteno

 

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, satellites have become an indispensable weapon for armies, intelligence services and humanitarian groups. Hundreds of images captured from the sky document troop movements, damage to infrastructure and even refugee flows. We look at how these devices are being used to assess the situation on the ground and make strategic decisions in this conflict.

 

The 'spies' in the sky

 

Even before Russian troops crossed into Ukraine, commercial surveillance satellites were mapping the Kremlin's plans. In February, a few days before Russia invaded the country, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that troops massed on the border were being withdrawn. However, as The Wall Street Journal reports, the satellite images said otherwise and showed, moreover, that Russia had built a bridge from Belarus so that tanks could cross a river into Ukraine. The imaging company Planet Labs PBC, which works with the Pentagon, detected the bridge thanks to its fleet of about 200 satellites that scans the entire country once a day.

While US government satellites are expensive and can take years to build and deploy, commercial satellites are relatively inexpensive and can provide very useful information. While they may not offer images of the highest quality, they have one major advantage: data can be easily shared without the security restrictions that many government satellites are subject to. In addition, there are technologies that can improve the quality of the captured photographs. For example, the Spanish company Tracasa uses deep learning to increase the resolution of images from the European Space Agency's (ESA) Sentinel-2 satellites fourfold, from 10 metres per pixel in each image to 2.5 metres per pixel.

 

Some technologies can boost the resolution of satellite images. Credit: Tracasa.

 

Satellites keeping watch in clouds and darkness

 

Ukraine has benefited from the information gathered by numerous commercial surveillance satellites with different capabilities. In addition to capturing optical images, some can see through clouds and track troop movements at night. This is especially important given that "Ukraine is a tricky place and there is a lot of cloud cover and night operations," says Mike Greenley, CEO of Canadian space technology company MDA. He points out that some satellites can detect where vehicles have moved, even in bad weather, and tanks hidden under trees.

With all this information coming from the sky, Russia has found it difficult to conceal its military actions. Apart from fighting Russian forces, Ukraine also uses satellite imagery to get public opinion on its side by reporting possible war crimes and civilian killings, tracking refugee flows and detecting mass graves in the country. In fact, some humanitarian groups also use the information gathered by satellites to map the chaos and evacuate civilians.

 

Ukraine uses the imagery to assess the situation on the ground and make strategic decisions to counter the invasion. Credit: Maxar Technologies.

 

The Russian counteroffensive

 

Russia is also trying to exploit the potential of satellites in the conflict, but it has a limitation: some analysts suspect it has long been using a small and inadequate fleet of communications and surveillance satellites. These devices, in some cases, rely on obsolete technology or imported parts that are now harder to obtain due to Western sanctions. "In principle, Russia is already practically blind in orbit," Bart Hendrix, a Brussels-based analyst and expert on Soviet and Russian space programs, told US radio corporation Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

Pavel Podvig, an expert on the Russian military and senior fellow at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva, points to another potential problem: data processing. "It's one thing to have satellites; it's another thing to be able to use them. [Russia] needs a system that allows it to quickly transfer information from satellites to the right people who will process it and transfer it to people responsible, for example, for target designation," he says. "The fact that Russia has some satellites still flying does not mean that such a system exists, and if it exists, it is difficult to say how good or bad it is."

The world's major powers are aware of the potential of the images collected by these satellites beyond the invasion of Ukraine. These eyes in the sky can be useful in unravelling the details of all kinds of conflicts. Now, thanks to this kind of imagery, governments can no longer take large-scale military action without everyone knowing about it. As Planet Labs PBC co-founder and CEO Will Marshall notes, “we are moving to a transparent and accountable era through these technologies.”

 

· — —
Tungsteno is a journalism laboratory to scan the essence of innovation. Devised by Materia Publicaciones Científicas for Sacyr’s blog.

  • Satellites
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  • Services

Improving safety in lane closures with drones

Sacyr Conservación has launched a pilot test using drones and 360o recordings of our operators as they close off lanes on the highway.

We are always working to guarantee health and safety on our projects and to find the best ways to improve our processes. So, Sacyr Conservación has launched a pilot test using drones and 360o recordings of our operators as they close off lanes on the highway.

We hope to improve road safety by reviewing current procedures used when closing off lanes on the road and prevent risks to our operators which might have gone unnoticed previously. 

“Lane closure is part of the daily routine in road maintenance. It is critical in terms of safety, when setting out and then removing the signage and elements. The team pulls over on the hard shoulder, then you have to get out of the vehicle, cross the road carrying heavy signs... Our staff are trained and aware, but routine can make you a bit too relaxed, and we need a new focus on risk prevention in our ongoing training” explains Simón  Maestra, (Delegate, south area)

“We have made drone and 360o camera recordings that we will use to create training content. We are getting together with operators from different centres to analyze and discuss the operation seen from the outside. By doing so, we believe that we can reach some very valid conclusions to minimize risks,” explains Simón Maestra, South Area Manager of Sacyr Conservación.

Using virtual reality, we can create custom audiovisual experiences through 360º videos that incorporate multimedia content.

 

 

“This allows our operators to actively engage and interact with the VR scene. The possibilities are tremendous because the worker can view the different operations and technical procedures from various perspectives. This allows us to engage with the worker and take action that will improve their performance as required. It is good to evolve and to put preventive actions in place,” says Marco Antonio García (Business Partner PRL Sacyr Conservación).

The idea is for the workers to see themselves, see when they pick up the signs, and when and how they cross the road, see the most critical points, so that they can perceive their own work as seen from the outside.

We have done it in Granada, on the A-44, and we plan to do it on the AP-7, in Castellón. The idea is to create a training session for all our centres, to draw conclusions and extrapolate our findings to the whole company. To create a general company-wide internal training programme. 

  • Drones
  • Road maintenance

Petra has attracted the interest of architects, scholars and tourists from around the globe. Credit: Unsplash.

  • Tungsteno

The secrets of Petra, a wonder of the world erected by desert nomads

To carve the ancient city of Petra into sandstone walls, while protecting the lives of workers, the Nabataeans resorted to carving giant steps in the mountain. With their ancestral engineering (and work safety) techniques, this nomadic people created the monuments of this emblematic architectural treasure in the middle of the desert two millennia ago.

ISABEL RUBIO ARROYO | Tungsteno

 

Nestled between gigantic canyons, Petra became a very rich and powerful city bustling with life, lush gardens, ornate houses and markets overflowing with exotic goods from India, Arabia and Egypt. This iconic site, which was once home to up to 20,000 people and has survived for more than two millennia, was carved directly into the rock in the middle of the desert in what is now Jordan. After investigating the construction of the Roman Colosseum and the Great Wall of China, we now look at how another of the seven wonders of the modern world was built.

Giant steps to avoid accidents

The Nabataeans, a group of Arabian nomads, constructed Petra between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD. Before settling here, these merchants moved from place to place with their camels, sheep and goats. Over time, they gained control of the main trade routes along which spices and incense flowed from Arabia to Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. Despite Petra's strategic location, it remains a mystery to this day why the Nabataeans would abandon their goatskin tents to build the great houses and monuments that make up this city.

Through 3D laser scanning, some historians have determined that giant steps were cut into the mountain to erect these structures. This way, it was not necessary for workers to be hanging by ropes or dangling dangerously off cliff faces. "They wanted to make sure the masons were safe because these people were very skilled and there weren't many of them—nobody wanted them to die moving things," structural engineer Steve Burrows, who has worked on landmark projects such as Beijing's National Stadium—commonly known as the "bird's nest"— tells BBC Science Focus.

Petra became a very rich and powerful city due to trade in exotic goods from India, Arabia and Egypt. Credit: BBC.

A city carved into sandstone walls

Petra is replete with tombs, monuments, temples, amphitheatres and houses carved into enormous sandstone walls. The design of the massive columns, staircases and classical statues show the influence of contact with Greece and Rome. These structures were hand-chiselled into the pinkish-red rocks and then covered with stucco and painted with bright colours.

Sandstone from some quarries was also used. If almost the entire landscape of Petra is filled with this type of rock, why were some sites selected for quarrying and not others? This decision was influenced by factors such as distance from the structure to be built, geomorphology, landscape, and the quality and size of the blocks, as Shaher M. Rababeh explains in his book How Petra was Built: An analysis of the construction techniques of the Nabataean freestanding buildings and rock-cut monuments in Petra, Jordan.

Moving large blocks of stone in a mountainous landscape can be quite an odyssey and it is not entirely clear what methods the Nabataeans employed to do so. Some historians believe that the blocks were probably cut to size at the quarry and then moved on sledges. In addition to sandstone, some white and greyish marble—imported from outside the region—granite columns and wood were also used. Researchers believe that the Nabataeans used wood to stabilise masonry walls against earthquakes, to support roof structures, and to build scaffolding and formwork for arches and vaults.

Petra is replete with tombs, monuments, temples, amphitheatres and houses carved into huge sandstone walls. Credit: Unsplash.

 

Rock-hewn canals and underground pipes

It is also possible that these structures were somehow protected from the rain, according to Burrows. "It only rains for a short period of time [each year], but very violently. So, what happens with sand and rain? The sand washes away!" he exclaims. The water that fell during these periods not only did not damage the structures of this city, but was used for the rest of the year thanks to the construction of "huge bodies of water in the desert."

The Nabataeans found a way to collect and store this precious liquid in the middle of the desert by means of watertight holes or cisterns. Hidden underground, these cisterns kept the water safe from both evaporation and enemies. A sophisticated system of rock-hewn canals and underground pipes carried water from these seasonal streams and other permanent springs to keep crops fertile and gardens well-watered.

Not only did rainwater not harm Petra's structures, but it was meant to be harnessed for the rest of the year. Credit: Unsplash.

Under the Nabataeans, Petra expanded as trade flourished. Merchants from all over the world passed through the city, leaving behind new ideas and some of the cultural styles of places such as Egypt, China and Greece. However, Petra was not simply a trading centre, it also became a cultural centre.

Over the centuries, Petra passed first to the Romans and then to the Byzantine Empire. But from the 6th century AD onwards, changing trade routes and earthquakes in the area led to the eventual abandonment of the iconic city. Even its location was forgotten. Then, in 1812, it was rediscovered by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. Since then, as well as being the setting for many legends and fictional stories, it has attracted the interest of architects, scholars and tourists from all over the world. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, it has become one of the world's most famous archaeological treasures.

 

· — —
Tungsteno is a journalism laboratory to scan the essence of innovation. Devised by Materia Publicaciones Científicas for Sacyr’s blog.

  • History
  • Desert
  • Buildings
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  • iFridays

Sacyr and Innovation, an inseparable pair

Like every year, June’s iFriday focused on internal innovation at Sacyr. Some of the supervisors of the most innovative and sustainable projects at Sacyr shared how they were developed and what their progress is like.

Last June 24, we held our last iFriday before the summer holidays, under the title “Sacyr and Innovation, an inseparable pair”. 

So far in 2022 we have had multiple innovation agents over that have served as inspiration to the company. In this first half of 2022, we spoke about gastronomic innovation with Nino Redruello, in February, some women in the STEM field visited our offices, in March, Antonio Oliva, Director of R&D at New Growing System discussed sustainable agriculture, Yaiza Rubio, from Telefónica brought us the metaverse in April, and in May, we learned about renewable energies with Gonzalo Sáenz de Miera from Iberdrola.

Like every year, June’s iFriday focused on internal innovation at Sacyr. Some of the supervisors of the most innovative and sustainable projects at Sacyr shared how they were developed and what their progress is like. 

 

 

Life HyReward


Patricia Terrero, Head of R&D+i at Sacyr Agua, presented project Life HyReward. The goal of this project is to explore how to generate electricity from brines resulting from desalination to make it more sustainable. The project seeks to assess how viable it is to settle on a new, more sustainable desalination process, combining reverse osmosis, a water desalination process that pressure filtrates salt water through membranes that do not let salt through, and reverse electrodialysis, which generates electricity from the saline gradient between two solutions with differenty degrees of salinity, like salt water and fresh water.

The incorporation of this process with conventional technologies allows to improve electricity generation in desalination processes, by recovering electric energy from the brines obtained in desalination before releasing them back into the sea, which in turn also reduces CO2 emissions.

“While our planet is called the blue planet, the availability of fresh water is very scarce, and we have a significant water deficit which is likely to aggravate in the next few years due to the effects of climate change. We need to look into unconventional resources to ensure demand supply, using desalination to obtain fresh water”, explained Patricia Terrero. 

 

 

Microuwas-BIO

 

The new hybrid process aims to be environmentally-friendly, generate clean and 100% renewable energy, without any negative consequences for the environment, contributing to reducing emissions and mitigating climate change. 
Then, Juan Pablo Antillera, Technical Director of Waste treatment of Sacyr Circular and Paloma Mingo, Manager of R&D projects of Valoriza, presented the project Microuwas-BIO.

This project seeks to design and develop a small-scale anaerobic digestor to identify and analyze the intervening microorganism colonies. This way, we achieve unprecedented levels of biotechnological control. The final goal is to increase the volume and quality of biogas and reduce the amount of waste bound to landfills and its biological and chemical reactivity. 

“This project focuses on anaerobic digestion. This project consists of the degradation of organic matter by microorganisms, always without oxygen, which on the one hand generates biogas, a methane and CO2 rich gas with high energy values, and digestate, on the other, a solid component that can be used as compost or a supplement to remediate degraded soil after composting”, clarified Paloma Mingo.

“The project has two distinct phases. As for the microorganism identification phase, we have spent the past 12 months taking samples in one of the digestors, which performs thermophilic anaerobic digestion, and is located in an eco-park in La Rioja, in a facility run by Sacyr Circular. All the samples were taken from the same digestor to assess how they evolve in time, by extracting DNA from all the samples taken over time. The results are promising, but they also give us a glimpse of how complex the ecosystem in the digestors is”, concluded Juan Pablo Antillera. 
 

 

Tunnel 4.0

 

Lastly, to conclude the session, Pablo García del Campo, technical director of Cavosa, and Miguel Martín Cano, Manager of innovation projects and knowledge of Sacyr Engineering and Infrastructures, spoke about Tunnel 4.0, an inititative that aims to improve the tunnel construction process through four action lines: use of live voice and data technology through tunnel lighting, machine sensorization for predictive analysis and machine monitorization, the development of real-time of excavation positioning; development of web applications to automate calculations.

Pablo García del Campo spoke of excavation control: “We’d noticed that workers couldn’t see properly while they were excavating. Without a reference, and even if they had it, they needed to wait for topographers to give the indications, which delayed works. Project Tunnel 4.0 was created to improve this process by creating a Google Maps of sorts, for the excavation equipment. This way, workers can see what their position is at any given time”.

According to Miguel Martín, one of the most dangerous and complicated tasks for geologists is to detect fissures in an excavation. “We have developed a browser and mobile app to help us recognize the majority of parameters, automate calculations and increase personnel safety. Thanks to this program, just by taking a picture, we can apply a series of filters able to define, detail and measure fissures and their size to preemptively detect them”. 

  • Water
  • Waste management
  • Tunnels
  • reverse osmosis
  • Infrastructures

A6 toll road: a strategic route connecting Belfast to Londonderry 

With the construction of this section of road between Dungiven and Drumahoe, we are improving mobility in Northern Ireland.

A6 highway connecting the cities of Dungiven and Drumahoe. (Northern Ireland)

  • Autopistas
  • Sacyr Infrastructures
  • Road projects
  • UK

Sacyr Infrastructures

28/07/2020

The project, awarded by Northern Ireland's Department of Infrastructures, included the design and construction of the road, which is 25 km long. 
This section is part of the North West Transport Corridor, which links the metropolitan area of Belfast and the North West of the country.

For the execution of this project, the consortium, made up of Sacyr and Wills Bros completed 22 structures, including four new interchanges and three roundabouts. The main figures for this project give a clear idea of its huge scope: 4 million cubic meters of earth moved, 500,000 tons in the execution of semi-flexible surfaces and 50 km of drainage systems.

25

KILOMETERS

In length

161

MILLION EUROS

Invested

22

STRUCTURES 

New structures created

  • Autopistas
  • Sacyr Infrastructures
  • Road projects
  • UK
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  • Sustainability

Recycled aggregates: our commitment to sustainability

We are resurfacing several stretches of Tenerife’s two main highways using 50% recycled and reused materia. This is the first road resurfacing project in Spain to use this percentage of recycled material.

  • Sustainability
  • Roads
  • Circular economy

The Canary Islands are a fragmented territory with complex terrain, and 42% of this area is protected by environmental regulations. As a result, the islands present major limitations in terms of obtaining the raw materials required for major civil engineering projects. Aggregates are one of the materials that are hard to obtain here. Tenerife, for example, only has one quarry authorized to extract aggregates.

The island’s Council (Cabildo) has shown its concern for this problem and is looking for more sustainable solutions, not just to reduce the use of natural resources, but also the waste generated in such projects. 

In 2021, the Council launched a tender competition for the resurfacing of the TF-1 and TF-5 highways, promoting and encouraging the reuse of material extracted when digging up the highway, indicating up to 50% usage of RAP (Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement) according to the Highway Instruction R.D. 40/2017. 

Sacyr, in line with our policy of sustainability and innovation, obtained the best technical score in the tender and put into operation its hot in-place recycling for the resurfacing of the TF-1 Highway.

The TF-1 is a high-capacity highway, which can handle average traffic intensities of around 90,000 vehicles a day, connecting the capital with Reina Sofia International Airport and the Puerto de los Cristianos (of general state interest), as well as the south of the island where the main tourist sites are located.

 

50% recycled material

This is the first road resurfacing project carried out in Spain that reuses 50% of the material removed from the same road, a genuine example of the circular economy and reduction of environmental impact.

The tender document proposed to increase the percentage of reclaimed asphalt pavement from 30% to 50%. This is the first project of its kind that contemplates such a high level of recycled material. Sacyr presented the highest-scoring technical bid, proposing to achieve 50% hot in-place recycling as defined by R.D. 40/2017.
 
The resurfacing project includes two sections of road running south and three sections running north.

This project is both corrective and preventive in its aims. As well as resurfacing sections that show obvious signs of deterioration, it will also work on sections that are at risk of collapse in the near future.

Manufacturing asphalt concrete with a higher percentage of recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) is a clear improvement from an environmental point of view, contributing to environmental sustainability and conservation, as it reduces not only the use of  natural resources but also the waste generated during the construction process.

It also offers around 24% savings on material costs (aggregates,  bitumen) and waste management.

The resurfacing project consists of drilling the existing surface and binder course, replacing the binder with Recycled Hot Mix Asphalt (50% RAP), and finally laying a full width surface course. The surface course cannot currently be made using recycled materials. 

Through this process, we will be able to drastically reduce the volume of waste generated from the removal of the existing surface, as well as reduce the volume of quarry materials required to manufacture the mixes. In an area like the Canary Islands, which has the highest percentage of protected territory in the whole of Spain (42%), it is essential to start working with this type of environmental policy. In the rest of Spain, it is only a matter of time before such policies are implemented. 


Similarly, the project aims to improve road safety through horizontal road markings, with rumble strips on the outer white lines to prevent accidents caused by driver inattention or distraction.
 

  • Sustainability
  • Roads
  • Circular economy
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