Nemkumar Banthia, an Indian-origin professor in the department of civil engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC), has come up with a technology that can be used to make roads that repair themselves. The roads built using this technology last longer and are cheaper to build. They are more sustainable from an environmental perspective too.
In recent months, Nemkumar Banthia, has been testing roads that self-repairs in Karnataka, in a demonstration project in a village about 90 km from Bengaluru and uses advanced materials and technology that could help with enhancing rural road connectivity. The project is the result of research involving materials science and structural engineering to create self-repairing roads, which are considered as cost effective, have greater longevity and are sustainable.
The road’s thickness, at about 100 mm, is about 60% less than that of a typical Indian road, reducing cost and materials. Also approximately 60% of the cement is replaced with flyash, thus curbing the usual carbon footprint, especially as cement production releases greenhouse gases. It comes with built-in crack healing, as high strength concrete is supplemented with fibre reinforcement with nano-coating that makes it absorb water and keeps the road hydrated.
Targeting greater sustainability and longevity of the road, the civil engineering professor said that the road would prove to be cost-effective and enhance rural road connectivity, improving access to markets for the villagers. These roads shall cost 30% less than the standard construction cost, and can last up to 15 years. “These are fibres that have a hydrophilic nano-coating on them. Hydrophilia means they attract water, and this water then becomes available for crack healing. Every time you have a crack, you always have unhydrated cement, and this water is now giving it the hydration capability, producing further silicates, which actually closes the crack in time”, said the Professor.
Banthia, who graduated from IIT-Delhi before moving to Canada 34 years ago, undertook the project under the auspices of the Canada-India Research Center of Excellence (IC-IMPACTS), where he is scientific director.