The asphalt used to resurface a busy section of the A43 near Silverstone in Northamptonshire is held together by a new bitumen called Styrelf Long Life.
Highways England is working with suppliers Tarmac and Total to put the new surface through its paces, but hopes it will bring big cost and carbon savings.
The new polymer-modified bitumen is designed to be more resistant to the elements by oxidising more slowly. This slower process means that the road surface stays flexible for longer, preventing cracks forming.
Suppliers claim the new asphalt could extend the 10-12 facelift cycle for roads, saving two resurfacing programmes in a 60-year period.
In asphalt savings alone this could save the equivalent of the CO2 produced by an average car if it was driven for more than 270000 miles – more than 10 times around the Earth.
Mike Wilson, Highways England’s chief highways engineer, said: “We’re always looking for innovative ways to help us keep England’s motorways and major A-roads in good condition.
“The ultimate priority for us is safety so we invest in new technology and materials to keep those using the roads safe.
“Longer lasting roads means fewer roadworks, less disruption for motorists and a more sustainable network for everyone.”
Brian Kent, technical director at Tarmac, said: “What we have in this case is essentially an anti-ageing cream for roads – just as these products are designed to reduce and prevent the signs of fine lines and overall ageing of the skin, the new bitumen being trialled on the A43 will protect the road surface.”
Rick Ashton, market development manager at Total, said: “These long-life binders will ultimately lead towards our vision of net zero carbon by 2050 by reducing roadworks, saving manufacturing, transport and installation energy and the associated emissions.
“This trial paves the way for enhanced highways asset management and predictive deterioration modelling for Highways England.”
The new material has previously been tested in the laboratories of Total, at Tarmac’s site in Elstow in Bedfordshire and on sections of road in The Netherlands and Germany. The A43 trial is the first time it has been used with high traffic levels in the UK.