#63 – Meet Rajagopalan Vasudevan

‘Degrade and Disappear’ doesn’t seem to apply to plastics. A boon in the early part of the ’90s is slowly consuming the entire planet. Dumping grounds have no more space to accommodate them. 

We keep hearing – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle plastic.

And to that, an Indian scientist has hit ‘2 birds with 1 stone.’ He created a technique to make streets out of recycled plastic that not only make better roads but also takes care of our plastic problem.

For his research and contributions to society, he was awarded Padma Shree in 2018. Meet Rajagopalan Vasudevan.

R Vasudevan

R Vasudevan is a Professor from Thiagarajar College of Engineering. He holds a Master’s in Science degree from Madras University. He also completed his Ph.D. from there in 1974. 

Just like all of us living in metros where the streets stretch between potholes, Vasudevan was troubled with the potholes. But, he decided to act on this.

Vasudevan thought maybe plastic could be the answer to eliminating the easily-causing potholes. The best part? he decided to recycle plastic instead of dumping or incinerating them. 

Photo by Jiarong Deng on Pexels.com

The Method

His technique fuses regular tar that is used to construct roads with plastic. For every kilo of stone, 50 gms of bitumen are used, and 1/10th of this is plastic waste; this reduces the amount of bitumen being used.  

Plastic increases the aggregate impact value and improves the quality of flexible pavements.  

By adding plastic, the roads turn out twice as strong as regular tar roads. With plastic, the road is not as susceptible to disintegration and potholes as a conventional road. This is because moving or stagnant water has no effect on the surface.

Today, not just cities but panchayats, municipalities, and even NHAI are applying his genius solution. National Highways will use plastic waste in its construction within a 50km border of urban areas that have a population of 5 lakh or more, NHAI revealed recently.

“Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has embarked upon a mission for utilising waste plastic in a big way. It has mobilised nearly 26 thousand people across the country for spreading awareness on plastic waste management. Over 61 thousand hours of shramdaan has been given to collect plastic waste. This has resulted in collection of nearly 18 thousand kilograms of waste plastic throughout the country,” the ministry said in a statement.

India already has over 100,000 kilometers of roads made of plastic, with more regions getting covered over time.

Global Implementation

Not just in India, these methods are also being applied by various countries across the globe.

Plastic roads with similar techniques are being built in Indonesia using a plastic-asphalt mix in many areas including Bali, Surabaya, Bekasi, Makassar, Solo, and others.

Plastic roads were also constructed by Dutch company Volkerwessels for cyclists in Zwolle, in the northeast part of the Netherlands.

The United Kingdom is also announced that it will invest £1.6 million for the trial of plastic road technology, in collaboration with MacRebur – an asphalt enhancement company, with some of its own secret compounds mixed with plastic to make roads last longer. It is currently being implemented in cities like Gloucester, London, Durham.

Source: https://www.indiatimes.com/technology/science-and-future/meet-padma-shree-r-vasudevan-who-made-roads-stronger-with-waste-plastic-that-saves-our-planet-505994.html

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