Plas­tic road holds many ben­e­fits

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - AL­WYN VILJOEN

DUTCH con­struc­tion firm Volk­erWes­sels has come up with a way to re­cy­cle plas­tics and built bet­ter roads to boot.

The com­pany has de­vel­oped a mod­u­lar Plas­ticRoad, which con­cept it says is in line with de­vel­op­ments such as Cra­dle to Cra­dle and The Ocean Cleanup: the ini­tia­tive to free the seas of ‘plas­tic soup’.

The Plas­ticRoad is still an idea on pa­per at the mo­ment; the next stage is to build it and test it in a lab­o­ra­tory to make sure it’s safe in wet and slip­pery con­di­tions and so on. “We are look­ing for part­ners who want to col­lab­o­rate on a pi­lot — as well as man­u­fac­tur­ers in the plas­tics in­dus­try,” the com­pany said.

While still at a con­cept stage, Volk­erWes­sels is look­ing for cities to help de­velop a pro­to­type to test the road in real world ap­pli­ca­tions.

The com­pany said their Plas­ticRoad is “vir­tu­ally main­te­nance free”, as it is un­af­fected by cor­ro­sion and the weather.

The road struc­ture han­dles tem­per­a­tures as low as -40 de­grees and as high as 80 de­grees Cel­sius with ease. It is also much more re­sis­tant to chem­i­cal cor­ro­sion than tar.

Si­mon Jor­ritsma, ad­viser at In­fraLinQ, told Wheels the Plas­ticRoad is dif­fer­ent from roads laid with a mix of tar and crumbed tyres, be­ing more durable. Volk­erWes­sels es­ti­mates their plas­tic road will last three times longer than nor­mal roads, which means less road main­te­nance and the en­su­ing traf­fic jams.

Be­cause sec­tions of the road could be pre­fab­ri­cated and in­stalled on sand in a sin­gle piece, the com­pany claims con­struc­tion time for roads would be cut from months down to weeks. T

he ma­te­rial would also be lighter and al­low bet­ter con­trol over fac­tors like road stiff­ness and wa­ter drainage, while a hol­low space within could be used for all sorts of things.

The moulded casts can also in­te­grate other el­e­ments like pi­zoid gen­er­a­tors to make power through im­pact of wheels, or con­ven­tional traf­fic sen­sors, mea­sur­ing equip­ment, and even heaters to melt snow in cold coun­tries.

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Artist im­pres­sion of a mod­u­lar plas­tic road con­cept by Dutch con­struc­tion com­pany Volk­erWes­sels.

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