Friday, 12 December 2014

'Self Healing Concrete' = No More Potholes?!

The UK suffers particularly badly with potholes due to the type of Tarmac used on our roads. It is more porous than that used in hotter European countries, this is so that it can clear surface water during a downpour.Unfortunately  in colder weather, this water that has seeped into the road surface can freeze and expand, causing damage to the asphalt.

Scientists at the University of Bath, Cardiff University and the University of Cambridge have been in the process of creating a new road surface, which uses bacteria to fill-in gaps and cracks caused by poor weather. This "Self healing concrete" means that Potholes could soon become a thing of the past.

When the bacteria comes into contact with water, it  bursts and produce limestone, which seals the gap before it can develop into a pothole.

The team behind the project believes that benefits will include
  • Removing the need for patchwork repairs
  • Reduce Compensation claims from drivers who've had their vehicles damaged by potholes
  • Transport network would become safer for vulnerable road users such as cyclists.
The groundbreaking (or should that be ground-making?) new material is just one of a number of innovations outlined by engineering company Arup.

Other ideas include replacing asphalt with solar panels, which could be used to charge electric cars and melt snow.

It also has plans to harvest energy from pedestrians by fitting pressure pads into the pavement, and place snowflake graphics on road surfaces using temperature sensitive paint, which would warn drivers when the temperature drops below a certain point.

Arup's global highways business leader Tony Marshall said: "While temperature-sensitive paint and solar surfaces may seem far-fetched, the innovations envisioned in this report are already being tested and piloted around the world," writes the Telegraph.

"They will change the way that we approach mobility and freight transport and will provide safer, more reliable and more environmentally friendly highway infrastructure for generations to come."

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