Sunday, March 16, 2008

Kerala to get road made with PLASTIC

It's a road less travelled. Metalled roads, cobbled streets and dirt paths are now passé with a road in Kerala being constructed now with plastic waste. A research centre in Kerala is paving a small stretch of road with plastic waste as part of its experiment to put to good use the huge amount of plastic garbage generated in the state. Though plastic waste has been used in road construction in neighbouring Tamil Nadu and some other states, the method may not suit Kerala because of different soil and climate conditions. Hence the experiment to develop a method suitable to the condition in the state is necessary, according to researchers working on the project. The Kozhikode centre of the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) is paving a 400-metre stretch of road in Vatakara municipal town, 40 km from here, with plastic waste as part of its demonstration project. "For one and a half years NATPAC conducted experiments on the use of plastic for constructing roads at our highway engineering lab at Thiruvananthapuram. It was successful. "Now we have to prove it on the field," said N. Vijayakumar, coordinator of NATPAC that functions under the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment. "In Kerala, the soil condition and climate are vastly different from other states. So it is necessary that we conduct a separate study here on roads which have frequent vehicle movement," he said. Tamil Nadu has taken up a pilot project for utilising plastic for road construction. "However, the technology is yet to win approval from bodies like the Indian Roads Congress," said Vijayakumar. "The officials in Kerala are hesitant to experiment," said the NATPAC coordinator, who found it tough to even get a road to experiment with the technology. The use of plastic saves bitumen up to 10 percent in road construction. Around a tonne of shredded plastic is needed to pave one km road with a width of 3.5 metres. The method is to mix plastic with heated granite pieces. The molten plastic covers the granite pieces enhancing its binding property. "Using plastic requires good monitoring. The plastic should be shredded to small pieces and mixed with the aggregate (granite pieces) heated between 160 and 170 degrees Celsius," said Vijayakumar. "The plastic mixed aggregate (granite pieces) have superior binding property. The Central Pollution Control Board has agreed in principle that this technology helps reduce pollution. If adopted this can solve the menace of plastic waste," he added.