Indian-Origin Canadian Professor Invents Road That Self-Repairs In Karnataka

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Nemkumar Banthia, Indian-origin professor in the Civil Engineering Department at University of British Columbia (UBC) in the Canada, has developed a type of type of road that can repair themselves. He and his team constructed a road which connects Thondebavi (situated 90 km from Bengaluru) to the highway.

The construction of the road was completed in the late winter of 2015. Before it was constructed there was only a dirt track in the village. The professor is also the Scientific Director of the Canada-Indian Research Centre of Excellence IC-IMPACTS which is based in UBC.

The main objective of this centre is to create collaborative projects that "develop and implement community-based solutions to the most urgent needs of each nation." Back in 2014, the team from this research centre interacted with panchayat members and the local community and elected Thondebavi for the trial run.

The project was declared success because it survived both Indian summer and monsoon without any problems. The road is only 100mm thick, which is 60% less thick than the standard Indian road. The reports suggest that the cost of laying out such a road is about 30% cheaper than the standard one.

When cement is used to create the road, it will release greenhouse gases. To prevent this negative effect, 60% of the cement was replaced with fly ash. The most amazing thing is that the road comes with built-in crack healing technology.

Professor Nemkumar told The Hindustan Times about this technology, "These are fibres which 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."

The professor also believes the road remain sturdy for another 15 years. This is a good news, because according to reports, Indian requires around 2.4 million km of roads in rural areas. He also said that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has shown interest for a highway demonstration project.

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Story first published: Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 10:44 [IST]
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