Handling the accumulation of water is one of the biggest challenges a transportation engineer has to face. Every year, billions of dollars worth or road networks are destroyed by torrential rains and storms throughout the world. The best way to stop this kind of damage of public property is to make the roads permeable enough to allow them to absorb a certain amount of water over time. Normally, it is 300 milliliters of water an hour, and it flows in all directions thus accumulating at the bottom of the slopes. The long-term presence of water erodes the road a fast rate and eventually it has to be rebuilt. It is a frustrating cycle endured by the public administration over time. What if you had concrete that could swallow up water at a very fast rate, say 880 gallons per minute and allow it to force in one direction only?
You would definitely call me insane since this amount of water needs an open duct to flow, but never underestimate the ability of extended area as Topmix Permeable, a UK-based engineering materials company has come up with this kind of concrete. If this is what they say it is, it can potentially avoid catastrophic damage to the road networks during storms and allow the low-lying areas to maintain metalled road connections to the rest of the country. The company’s researchers had been developing this new kind of road for nearly six years, and one of the problems they have removed from traditional concrete is the reduction of the permeability of the pores over time. They overcame it with the help of a new approach called the paste control that allows it remain porous over lengthy periods of time.
Rather than using concrete made from sand, the new technique uses bits of granite for this purpose that remain extremely dry over time, and they always allow water to go through with ease. There are three types of concrete currently under development. One with full penetration that allows water to reach the lower levels since there is no need to store it in that area. The second one with partial penetration that allows it to enter the drainage system along the roads so that it can be used for various purposes if needed be. The third type is attenuation that stores the water in storage units so that it can be used as clean water later on since those areas are in need of clean water after the calamity.
The Topmix concrete can be used in all weather conditions except extremely cold ones, so it can be used in all those tropical regions and plain areas where torrential rains destroy roads at a regular basis. It is a revolutionary concept that can change the road construction norms in the future. Currently, it is limited to sales in the UK and has been used to construct roads in a car park and golf course but it will definitely be expanded to market throughout the world. The one-time cost maybe high since the old roads would have to be gutted and remade, but the investment would prove useful in the long run.