Potholes are the bane of many existences. These large and gaping holes can ruin tires, bend axles, and cause all kinds of damage. Some potholes are even large enough to swim in! Many of us joke about potholes when spring rolls around, but what if there were a way to fix potholes forever?
Even better, what if there were a way to never have to see another pothole ever again? An existence free of potholes may be just around the corner.
Today, I’m stepping a bit away from my usual technology articles to bring you something straight from the pages of an inventor who was tired of the pothole problem. Today, I’m going to tell you about a new kind of asphalt that will solve all the pothole problems the world currently faces. This new technology comes from the Delft University of Technology and a scientist named Erik Schlangen.
Porous Self-Repairing Asphalt
The type of asphalt Schlangen is experimenting with is porous asphalt that’s largely used in Northern Europe. This asphalt drains water better than other types of asphalt and is easier to repair. The only problem with this asphalt is that it tends to rip easily and is not that durable.
As a result, the asphalt causes a number of potholes that have to be repaired. In return, constantly repairing asphalt costs cities and counties a lot of money. To counteract the fragility of this asphalt, Professor Schlangen added a large amount of steel wool to the makeup of the asphalt.
What does steel wool do? When heated using induction heating, the conducting materials works to heat up a different substance (regular asphalt mixed with wool fibers). Once the wool has heated up, the asphalt then melds together with the wool creating a solidified piece of asphalt.
Suddenly, the problem of fixing and repairing roads has disappeared. The only thing that city workers would have to do is heat the professor’s new asphalt using conduction heating. Once heated, the asphalt would no longer need repair – and potholes would be gone for good.
Stronger and Longer Asphalt
Once the asphalt has been heated and repaired, it is actually stronger than the original asphalt. Professor Schlangen has tested his asphalt in the Netherlands, and it seems to be working wonderfully. Cities would have to purchase special induction heaters in order to heat the asphalt, but the costs are less than constantly repairing roads – and motorists will pay a lot less when it comes to car damage caused by potholes!
At the moment, the professor’s invention is just a prototype, but it is ready to roll and it does work. The tricky part is to gain the necessary funding to produce the asphalt, and trying to get cities to sign on to the deal. It’s hard to convince people that a new technology is better than an old one, but the old technology is clearly not working that well.
The other problem that Schlangen will face is that companies supplying asphalt to cities make money on asphalt that needs to be constantly repaired, so he has a tough battle to fight. However, the solution to potholes does exist.