Self Healing Road

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Self Healing Road
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The road which heals by themsleves

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. 

How does it work exactly?

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.

Udayram Patil

Udayram Patil

Udayram Patil is an enthusiastic graduate civil engineer with an eye for innovative & technical writing.His wish is to combine his knowledge and experience about his field, to deliver the best practical cum accurate information to his audience.
Udayram Patil


  • Piyush Goyel (#)
    May 23rd, 2017

    Could you give the price breakup, time required for construction and all materials used for construction.

    Is the model road being monitored for post construction performance? Looking forward for the answer.

    • Unsolved-Engineering (#)
      May 23rd, 2017

      There is no explicit list for the components used for this type of roads or the cost analysis. However it is stated that about 60% of the cement is replaced with flyash. It’s also 30% cheaper in terms of a first time cost, though the savings, as mentioned, would be substantial over its life cycle.

      Yes this project was monitored and tested through the extreme heat of an Indian summer and the monsoon. And now, it can be claimed a success.

  • Megha (#)
    May 24th, 2017

    There are two kinds of pavements – Flexible and Rigid. In this case, it is of the latter type and the road was laid on a completely dilapidated dirt track in a village. Anyone can do further research about it. There are a lot of research going on with promising outcomes. This is a big step in countering the improper drainage system which drastically affected the roads. However one big obstacle that remains is corruption. If that is eradicated, then everything will fall in place.

  • Chetana (#)
    May 24th, 2017

    There’s a reason why these roads are might not used.

    First of all, this is only the road surface. There is a lot of sub-structure below the surface that makes up the road. If this is only half as thick as a normal road, forget speed, it will crumble under the constant weight of trucks and buses.

    Second, the government of Karnataka is already white-topping many major roads. White topped roads are by default concrete + fly ash roads. The problem of course is the initial investment. Fibre reinforced concrete is going to be (at this stage) much more expensive.

    Our government has a tendency of jumping into things without independent scientific analysis, I hope this will not be one of them.

    But! This is a much more realistic option than things like plastic roads with holes in them.

    • acchute (#)
      May 24th, 2017

      I wonder whether concrete should be the right surface to replace dirt. Right now it is the best solution, but I’m considering many farmers returning home sans footwear, and concrete (Concrete has a heat capacity of about 750 J/KgK compared to dry soil for which it is about 850 J/KgK).

      Cobblestone is not correct because it isn’t Indian, and hard-packed soil with a loamy top leads to a lot of dust.

      It’s great that research is going on, but I’m hoping that it bears fruit. There are so many “tech ideas” today that are not very useful or not even viable (vertical garden pillars and hyperloop, for instance). There are many roads which need to be resurfaced in city suburbs and villages to be walker-friendly, and I hope this might work out to be a cheap one (flexible pavements aren’t a solution when you want the roads to also sustain traffic).

      However, I still cannot understand how this is any better than a simple white-topped surface. Corruption is a superfluous issue.

  • Ashok (#)
    May 24th, 2017

    What about in summers? How does it manage to get the moisture to heal its cracks?

    • Unsolved-Engineering (#)
      May 24th, 2017

      Poor drainage is one of the reasons for cracking and it occurs majorly during monsoon,which is effectively prevented here. There is nothing specifically for summer(Have you seen any road getting damaged in summer?) Then load bearing capability also comes into picture, which is also pretty good in these type of roads.

  • Mohan Chilukuri (#)
    November 24th, 2017

    what are the materials used for this roads?
    Is there any other material can replace with hydrophilic nano coating materials?

    • Udayram Patil (#)
      December 3rd, 2017

      Material Specifications for this kind of projects are not revealed and kept secret due it’s huge market and to avoid stealing of idea..
      You can contact the specific company/person for material Specifications….

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