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From Purpose to Action: Building a Sustainable Future Together
Creating Infrastructure Today That Can Withstand Tomorrow

Increasing climate intensity and resulting recovery costs can be daunting; but we must continue focusing on updating our infrastructure with the advanced materials-science-based technology available today.

To address changing weather conditions — due in part to climate change — scientists and engineers are developing new technologies to create resiliency in our ever-evolving world. However, many solutions already exist to help us better prepare for an uncertain future.

September is National Preparedness Month; and FEMA’s national preparedness goal is to create “a secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.”

Considering this objective, let’s explore how we can implement technology where it matters most today to create more resiliency tomorrow and many more years to come.

3 key ways to future-proof our infrastructure

Infrastructure is a primary part of security and resiliency across the nation, but US infrastructure — including bridges, roads, pipes, power grids, telecommunications and more — is aging and fragile. Updating these networks that are critical to our way of life should be a priority in the pursuit of better preparedness as climate change intensifies.

Fortunately, innovation in material science has resulted in technologies capable of updating this infrastructure with improved performance and weatherability. Here are three ways we can use these innovations to create systems with safer, more durable and longer-lasting infrastructure:

1. Undergrounding with durable cables

Above-ground electrical and communication cable lines are vulnerable to extreme weather and natural disasters. But keeping this key infrastructure intact means communities can recover faster. When these cable lines are installed underground with proper insulation materials, they are more durable and last longer in the face of increasingly severe weather.

For example, Dow’s ENDURANCE™ Compounds for Power Cable Systems offer outstanding reliability and longevity for insulation, semiconductive and jacketing applications in extra-high-voltage, high-voltage and medium-voltage cable systems. The ENDURANCE HFDC-4202 EC Compound for Cable Systems has a best-in-class life expectancy — helping create resiliency in power and communication.

As demand for 5G connectivity and broadband connectivity soars in the US, another way innovation in materials science can help enable reliable communication is with infrastructure advancements targeted at fiber optic networks. AXELERON™ Telecom Cable Compounds with CONTINUUM™ Bimodal Polyethylene Resins can enhance the performance and deployment of these networks, creating more opportunities for increased reliability, efficiency and ease of installation along with lower life-cycle costs and overall longevity.

2. Ensuring the longevity and durability of pipelines

Pipes, which allow for the distribution of assets like energy and provide drainage for water, are another critical part of our infrastructure. Damaged pipes can lead to issues such as water delivery disruption, flooding, electrocution risk and more.

As concerns about aging pipe systems rise, Dow has developed a vast offering of pipe solutions. CONTINUUM Bimodal Polyethylene Resins are also a key solution for developing extremely durable, leak-resistant pipelines that can provide communities with resources such as natural gas and water in virtually any climate.

3. Modifying asphalt for stronger roads

If you’ve ever driven on a pothole-filled, cracked street or highway, you’ve seen the result of outdated, crumbling infrastructure. Traditional pavement often fails from rutting, stripping and cracking, causing roads to deform over time and making them susceptible to further damage in times of natural disaster. Such damage can inhibit emergency personnel and community members in times when efficient transportation is critical.

Polymer-modified asphalt (PMA) offers one solution — roads made with PMA offer increased durability by up to 30 percent. An additional benefit for the planet is that post-consumer recycled (PCR) content can be used to create recycled polymer modified asphalt (RPMA) for roads, parking lots and other pavement — helping curb the flow of plastic waste into landfills and the environment.

Dow’s ELVALOY™ Reactive Elastomeric Terpolymer (RET) can help enhance PMAs and has been doing so with proven results for more than 30 years. The result is elevated performance, long service life and lower lifecycle costs compared to conventional, neat asphalt. Dow is also collaborating with organizations such as the National Asphalt Pavement Association to use its asphalt modifiers to help achieve safer, longer-lasting roadways.

Increasing climate intensity and resulting recovery costs can be daunting; but we must continue focusing on updating our infrastructure with the advanced materials-science-based technology available today. With these and many more innovative solutions around the globe, we can build more resiliency into our society and weather the storms to come.

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