Recycled Plastic Road

Recycled Plastic Road

27 July, 2015
Paving The Future
The prefab structures are durable, ultra-quiet and can even be heated!
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The largest road manufacturer in the Netherlands, KWS Infra, has teamed up with European construction company VolkerWessels to develop a road made out of recycled plastic.
 
Reported to be the world’s first plastic road, the prefabricated structure boasts “lots of advantages compared to current road structures” says KWS Infra director Rolf Mars.
 
Hollows within the structure allow water, electricity and pipes to run through them. “The potential of the concept is huge,” claims Mars. In-road power generators would enable ultra-quiet roads, road heating, and modular road construction. This offers a wealth of opportunities for city infrastructure and grid management.
 
The prefeb structures are built in sections and then applied to surfaces to make a road. Contrary to conventional paving methods, the structures can be placed on sand or poor soil. Other traffic elements such as loops, lamps and equipment can also be easily integrated.
 
Being “virtually maintenance free… we estimate that the life span of roads can be tripled,” says Mars. Resisting corrosion and weathering from -40 degrees to 80 degrees Celsius, the roads also resist chemical corrosion. This means fewer traffic congestions from road maintenance.
 
Among a string of road developments from the Netherlands, this idea sits along with the country’s recent ‘smart-highway:’ a road that glows in the dark, provides dynamic signaling for weather and wind, and even charges passing electric cars via induction coils.
 
This new idea is the brainchild of designer Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure, and is already partially in place. Roosegarde rightly points out that “roads are stuck in the middle ages” and that “these aren’t high-tech ideas, but ones that we could integrate within the next three to five years.” Indeed, these functions don’t rely on advanced innovations, but existing ideas adapted into clever variations. 
 
Examples of the dynamic ‘information highway’ are temperature sensitive paints that reveal snowflakes below -5 degrees and sun images above 20. Wind-powered lighting activates as cars drive by and offers huge improvements over idle and wasteful lighting systems in place.
 
Roosegaarde claims that the role of the designer is to be “a hippie with a plan.” This project perfectly showcases this point. Indeed, with climate justice facing the unmoving face of ravenous free-market capitalism, the pressure of the innovator falls on working creatively within the constraints of our societal paradigm rather than expecting it to change.
 
This is a fantastic example of a creative individual integrating easy technology into a receptive society. Hopefully Asia will be next to create such innovations.
 

By: Louis de Tilly-Blaru
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