Can you imagine a pothole free world? Sound far fetched to you? Well that scourge of the motorcyclist's life, the lethal lurking pothole, is under the microscope and the bumpy ride may be about to become much smoother.


Not only motorcyclists but cyclists and car drivers stand to benefit from innovative work which scientists at the University of Bath, Cardiff University and the University of Cambridge are doing and strangely, it’s on concrete. Truly thinking outside the box, the researchers are working on the creation of self-healing concrete. Yes you did read that right, self-healing concrete.

This, among other amazing transport innovations are outlined in a report by the engineering company Arup. Basically the new road material will use specifically developed bacteria to grow a limestone material which will expand to fill the cracks in the road surface created by bad weather.  The bacteria are encased in tiny capsules which are mixed into the concrete blend when it is made. When the concrete is laid the cases full of bacteria just sit there dormant, waiting until a crack appears caused by bad weather and when it rains into that crack the water opens the capsules, allowing the bacteria to emerge. When their cases are opened the bacteria get to work to produce a limestone like material, hopefully in quantities large enough to plug the gap in the road and heal the pothole.  Sound like Science fiction – well it’s on the way!

This new technique should hopefully reduce road and building repair costs by as much as 50% and increase road safety, as scars on the road surface will hopefully be filled far more quickly without the road gang having to turn out.

As well as huge financial savings, there should be significant emissions savings too – more than 7% of the world’s CO2 emissions are due to cement production and this new material should significantly reduce that as it would remove the need to constantly manufacture cement to manually repair the roads.

Cementing a safer future

There should be a big road safety improvement too as cracks and potholes in the road surface are very hazardous to all road users, particularly motorcyclists and cause multiple accidents every year.  It should also reduce the compensation claimed by drivers and riders for damage to vehicles caused by potholes.

And while we are on the future of roads and transport, there are other equally bizarre and amazing things afoot in the report from the engineering company Arup. How about road surfaces not even made of cement and tarmac but paved with solar panels which could charge up passing electric vehicles and melt ice and snow. And cold-sensitive paint which would only show up below a certain temperature to warn riders where the road was icy – giant painted snowflake appears on the road - no more invisible black ice. (Great for Christmas - you could paint snowflakes on your house which would only appear at Christmas time!)

Arup's global highways business leader Tony Marshall said:

"While temperature-sensitive paint and solar surfaces may seem far-fetched, the innovations envisioned in this report are already being tested and piloted around the world."

So there we are – the future is nearly here look out for a bacteria road gang near you soon – do they make high vis small enough though?

Any thoughts? do you like this idea? Email us at:
Posted by Lucy England
for Wemoto News on 03 December 2014 in General News



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