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New compound provides better pothole patch solution

Winter potholes may become less of a headache for drivers and road workers alike, courtesy of a patching solution created by researchers at the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Winter potholes may become less of a headache for drivers and road workers alike, courtesy of a patching solution created by researchers at the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Over a year ago, researchers discovered that taconite material, when mixed with chemicals that will remain nameless pending a patent, create a solid.

"This is fabulous," said Dave Hendrickson from NRRI at a demonstration of the pothole patch earlier this week. Hendrickson said the new formula is far superior to current patching techniques because there are no fumes and it's a stronger patch.

As a part of NRRI's research, potholes along 47th Avenue East and Peabody Road were patched so NRRI researchers can observe the solution on a city road for the first time.

"Other patching material tends to pop out," Hendrickson said. "We feel this will stay in better because it better bonds to the asphalt."

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The new solid solution has other advantages as well.

The compound creates its own heat, meaning potholes can be patched in the winter. The compound mixes with water instead of separating from water like asphalt. It hardens in about 20 minutes, and it's inexpensive.

Because it is made from taconite, the new pothole solution could also generate income for the Iron Range.

The solution has already been tested at the Coleraine Minerals Research Laboratory in Coleraine.

"We have patched concrete and asphalt in Coleraine," said Hendrickson. "This new stuff is more durable and easier to work with. The patches lasted over six months in Coleraine and lasted through the winter and being driven over."

Much of the research that takes place at NRRI focuses on using northeastern Minnesota's resources to enhance the economy.

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