‘Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable’.
The quote holds immense significance. Innovation is the key of advancement and growth. Especially in a field such as construction. With growing days we need to be innovative in every aspect be it material, technology or application. Discussed below are few of those innovations in road construction technologies that are noteworthy.
Have a look!
At the Delft University of Technology they are currently working on a peculiar kind of self-healing asphalt. It is an electrically conductive material using fibers and fill materials that work as closed circuits. When the first cracks start to appear, instead of sending a steamroller and a lorry carrying asphalt, an electrical current applied on the area will do the job. The heat generated by the electricity melts the bitumen and the cracks are instantly sealed.
On the other hand, researchers at the ETH university (Switzerland), jointly with Empa, have chosen to use electromagnetism and nanotechnology to address the same problem. Their smart road system is based on the addition of magnetic nanoparticles to the asphaltic mixture at the manufacturing stage. Once subjected to an electromagnetic field, the particles warm up and melt the bitumen, thus sealing the cracks that develop over time. Of course, this system does not allow to fix large potholes, but it can help to fight the first symptoms of decay.
Jambulingam Street, Chennai, is a local legend. The tar road in the bustling Nungambakkam area has weathered a major flood, several monsoons, recurring heat waves and a steady stream of cars, trucks and auto rickshaws without showing the usual signs of wear and tear. Built in 2002, it has not developed the mosaic of cracks, potholes or craters that typically make their appearance after it rains. Holding the road together is an unremarkable material: a cheap, polymer glue made from shredded waste plastic.
Jambulingam Street was one of India’s first plastic roads . The environmentally conscious approach to road construction was developed in India around 15 years ago in response to the growing problem of plastic litter. As time wore on, polymer roads proved to be surprisingly durable, winning support among scientists and policymakers in India as well as neighboring countries like Bhutan. “The plastic tar roads have not developed any potholes, rutting, raveling or edge flaw, even though these roads are more than four years of age,” observed an early performance report by India’s Central Pollution Control Board. Today, there are more than 21,000 miles of plastic road in India, and roughly half are in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Most are rural roads, but a small number have also been built in cities such as Chennai and Mumbai.
In Jinan, the capital of the northeastern Shandong province, traffic is now rolling over a stretch of expressway that’s also generating electricity from the sun, according to state-run CCTV (link in Chinese). Extending for 1 km (0.6 miles), the stretch is made of three layers: transparent concrete on the top, photovoltaic panels in the middle, and insulation on the bottom. The area covered comes out to 5,875 square meters (63,200 sq ft).China is billing the project as the world’s first photovoltaic highway. The Jinan stretch includes two lanes and an emergency lane and is designed for both electricity generation and public transport, according to Zhang Hongchao, a project designer and transportation engineering expert at China’s Tongji University interviewed by CCTV. He said the expressway could handle 10 times more pressure than the normal asphalt variety and in a year generate 1 million kWH of electricity, which will be used to power street lights and a snow-melting system on the road. It’s also designed to supply power to charging stations for electric vehicles, should those be added in the future.
Lightning in the dark
Rather than spend a large budget on road lighting or other lighting options that span across thousands of miles of roads, the idea to use glow in the dark road markings is a better, more adoptable alternative. Such markings are already made available on the road in the N329 highway in Oss, Netherland.The markings are made using paint that contains photo-luminising powder that “charges up” during the day. These green glow markings stretch for 500 m long and will glow for up to 8 hours every night, transforming your driving experience Tron-like.
Intelligent Network Highways:
Travelling in a self-driving vehicle at 150kph along an intelligent highway that offers automatic charging and toll-paying functionality on the go will no longer be a sci-fi concept in China.
A super highway, extending 161km and equipped with intelligent transportation systems to support autonomous vehicles, is expected to break ground by 2022 in Zhejiang province, its transport authority said.The highway, connecting Hangzhou, Shaoxing and Ningbo – three relatively prosperous cities – is designed to ease traffic congestion on the highway linking Hangzhou and Ningbo, and aims to reduce travel time by a third to just 60 minutes.The ultimate goal is to realise a top speed limit of 150kph, or even eliminate speed limits, like on German highways, said Ren Zhong, deputy director of transport for Zhejiang.
The intelligent highway system will allow vehicles to freely flow past toll booths, which means drivers do not need to stop and charges will be automatically billed, he said.