Anirudh Bhattacharyya, Toronto: In recent months, Nemkumar Banthia, professor in the department of civil engineering…
Anirudh Bhattacharyya, Toronto: In recent months, Nemkumar Banthia, professor in the department of civil
engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC) has had his eyes fixed on a road.
That road, though, happens to be more than 12,500 km from Vancouver, where he is based. It’s a demonstration project in a village about 90 km from Bengaluru and uses advanced materials and technology that could help with enhancing rural road connectivity.
The project is the result of research that marries materials science and structural engineering to create self-repairing roads that are cost effective, have greater longevity and are sustainable.
Banthia, who graduated from IIT-Delhi before moving to Canada 34 years ago, undertook the project under the auspices of the Canada-India Research Center of Excellence IC-IMPACTS, where he is scientific director.
In 2014, his team selected Thondebavi village, after a series of interactions with gram panchayat members and the local community. Based at UBC, the center is focused on research collaboration between Canada and India to develop and implement “community-based solutions to the most urgent needs of each nation”.Construction of the road, which connects Thondebavi to the highway and replaces a dilapidated dirt track, was completed in the late winter of 2015, but the last few months were critical as it had to be monitored for how it lasted through the extreme heat of an Indian summer and the monsoon. Now, it can be claimed a success.
The road’s thickness, at about 100 mm, is about 60% less than that of a typical Indian road, reducing cost and materials. About 60% of the cement is replaced with flyash, thus curbing the usual carbon footprint, especially as cement production releases greenhouse gases. It comes with built-in crack healing, as high strength concrete is supplemented with fibre reinforcement with nano-coating that makes it absorb water and keeps the road hydrated.