Yeh…! You read it right ! The Roads which are capable of repairing themselves..!!
Everyone being from City or from Village have faced a problem with potholes and bad road conditions.
Nemkumar Banthia, Professor at Department of Civil engineering of University of British Columbia (UBC) has come with the solution for this, The self healing roads. He had his eyes fixed on a road since years.
That road, though, happens to be more than 12,500 km from Vancouver, where he is based. Its demonstration project it situated in a village about 90 km from Bengaluru & uses advanced materials & technology that could help to enhance rural road connectivity.
The project is the result of research in materials science & structural engineering to create the self-repairing roads that are cost-effective, have greater longevity & are sustainable.
Mr. Banthia, who graduated from IIT-Delhi before moving to the Canada 34 years ago, undertook the project under the auspices of Canada-India Research Center of Excellence IC-IMPACTS, where he is scientific director.
In 2014, his team selected Thondebavi village(near Bangalore), after a series of interactions with the Gram Panchayat members & the local community. Based at UBC, center is focused on the research collaboration between Canada & India to develop and implement the “community-based solutions to the most urgent needs of each nation”.
Construction of road, which connects Thondebavi to highway & replaces a dilapidated dirt track, was completed in the late winter, but last few months were critical as it had to be monitored for how it lasted through extreme heat of an Indian summer & the monsoon. And now, it can be claimed a success.
The road thickness is about 100 mm, which is about 60% less than that of the typical/traditional Indian roads, thereby reducing the cost & materials. About 60% of cement is replaced with the fly-ash, resulting in curbing the usual carbon footprint, especially as the cement production releases greenhouse gases.
This is the result of extensive research in the material sciences & structural engineering.
Most of us knows that stagnant water is the biggest enemy of roads !
Keeping this in mind, these roads are made up of the high strength concrete that is supplemented with the fibre reinforcement whereas nano-coating enables self-healing by absorbing any water on it. This prevents water from staying on the road surface while simultaneously keeping the road hydrated.
These nano-coatings are hydrophilic in nature. Hydrophilia means they attract water & thus this water then becomes available for the crack healing. So every time you have a crack, you always have an unhydrated cement & this water is now giving it the hydration capability, producing further the silicates which actually closes the crack in time.
Mr. Banthia, originally from Nagpur, said he expected the road to be last about 15 years, far beyond than two-year lifespan of average rural or mid-town road in the India. It is also 30% cheaper in terms of the first time cost, though savings, he said, would be substantial over its life cycle.
Villagers, he said, have taken to new road, since it connects each of the hamlet’s 1,200 residents, and allows them to take their produce to the market easily.
With India requiring about 2.4 million km of the rural roads, it isn’t surprising that this project may be replicated in the other states, with initial discussions underway for similar roads in Haryana & Madhya Pradesh. And the technology doesn’t have to be limited to the villages since conversations have also been held with the ministry of the road transport for a highway demonstration project. “There is a great deal of interest,” Mr. Banthia said.
That interest is not limited to India. Closer home, such a road could soon be constructed for a First Nations community near Edmonton in the Canadian province of Alberta. That comes with its own climactic challenges – extreme cold, winter snow and the thaw. But Banthia is confident such roads will show the path ahead for rural communities to overcome the connectivity deficit.