Around 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste is produced every day in India, and most of this plastic ends up poisoning ecosystems around the country. As the toll of plastic pollution on wildlife becomes more likely, this genius scientist from Madurai created an idea to make streets in our nation out of plastic that will not only make more reliable roads but also takes care of the garbage problem.
Plastic Man of India
R Vasudevan, who is a Master in Science and a Ph.D. holder, believed that the plastics carried the key to eliminate the potholes while also recycling plastic instead of dumping or incinerating them.
At one point Vasudevan refused normal tar that is used to construct roads with plastic. He took the help of a polymerized mix in the road construction. For each kilo of stone, 50 gms of bitumen are utilized and 1/10th of this is plastic waste; this reduces the number of bitumen being used.
“There were a lot of talks about banning plastics all over the country and getting solutions to the waste plastic pitched quite often. I chose to take up the challenge to test with waste plastics and see if I could find a solution,” he told the better India.
It was in 2002 when Vasudevan executed the use of plastic waste on a road constructed inside his college premises. This was performed when his laboratory results of mixing waste plastic with heated bitumen and coating the mixture over stone proved perfect. Plastic enhances the aggregate impact value and increases the quality of flexible roads.
It was in 2006, the Thiagarajar College of Engineering received the license for this invention.
According to his theory, the inclusion of plastic helps the roads to be twice as strong as regular tar road. Using these plastics, the roads barely result in causing potholes. They can even hold flowing or stagnant water which makes no effect on the surface.
“The whole method is very simple. The plastic waste material is first torn to an appropriate size using a shredding machine. The total mix is melted at 165°c and transferred to the mixing cell, and the bitumen is heated to 160°c to result in a good merging. It is necessary to watch the temperature during the melting process,” he said.
“Giving an oily look, the ripped plastic waste is then mixed to the total blend. It gets coated evenly over everything within 30 to 60 seconds. It is then mixed with heated bitumen and the resulting mix is used for road construction. The temperature for laying these mixtures on the roads should be between 110°c to 120°c. The road roller utilized for this process should have a capacity of 8 tons,” he added.
These roads have now become a better defense of rainwater and cold weather. Because a large amount of plastic waste is required for a small extent of road, the amount of waste plastic scattered around will reduce.
And now, not just in India but various countries across the globe like Netherland, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom use R Vasudevan’s method.