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As urbanization increases in the modern world, there is a need for new materials that can rise to the challenge faced by modern industry and urban planners. In recent years, scientists working within the field of materials sciences have developed many unique solutions for the growing demand across multiple sectors.
Polyurethane surfaces are an interesting development in recent years. Elastopave®, a new pervious concrete material developed by BASF, is promising to fulfill a myriad of needs in modern industry and society. Sustainability is one major issue and Elastopave® is particularly suited to address this.
Elastopave® - An Innovative Permeable Concrete
Porous surfaces have been traditionally attained by physical means. A standard method is to lay down brickwork as a paving material without mortar or other filler material between the gaps. This provides a void, allowing water to drain and maintaining a smooth surface. However, this has the distinct disadvantage of wear and tear, manpower requirements, and maintenance costs. Other methods have involved using loose gravel, crushed glass, or cobblestones.
Elastopave® is an innovative material. By combining specially selected stones with polyurethane, the end result is strong and durable, with the added bonus of being a smooth, permeable surface. This allows rainwater to percolate through the material and replenish aquifers while tackling waterlogging, a common problem in urban planning.
Video Credit: BASF/YouTube.com
Elastopave® is a porous concrete that can last for decades. Necessary repairs are reduced compared to more traditional methods, which can have real benefits for continued usage. The benefits of these polyurethane surfaces include reduced costs in material and manpower needed to provide ongoing upkeep of surfaces and structures. Other benefits include protection against aquaplaning and black ice.
Groundwater Loss: A Pressing Problem for a Sustainable Future
With the world’s population predicted to grow by a billion people by 2025 and global agriculture requiring an extra 1 trillion cubic meters of water every year, water shortages will become a major problem very quickly. Thirty nations are predicted to be water scarce by 2025, according to the UN. Two-thirds of the world’s population will likely be living in “water-stressed” areas.
Sustainability is key to the continued water security of human civilization. Porous surfaces can provide sustainability.
A significant oversight by urban planners throughout the centuries of human development has been that traditional materials, including asphalt and concrete, do not allow water to drain into natural aquifers. Rain falling on these surfaces stagnates and evaporates over time, instead of seeping into the ground. Pervious concrete such as BASF’s gives hope to future generations and their access to fresh drinking water.
How Polyurethane Surfaces are Utilized in Urban Projects Across the World
There is a growing number of urban projects that are incorporating the benefits of a permeable surface into their infrastructure and planning. It has been applied to road surfaces, sidewalks, play areas and much more.
Benefits are not just practical – there is an aesthetic benefit to the material as well, as the composition and type of stone added to the mix can be varied according to the several applications and environments.
In Erftstadt, Germany, Elastopave® has been heavily used in 750 m2 of cycle paths. In Korea, it is increasingly employed for improved drainage on sidewalks and noise absorption. It has also been used in golf courses such as in Dubai for improved flood reduction.
A Bold, Innovative Approach to Seawater Drainage
An innovative approach to drainage has been developed in Thailand. As part of the nation’s 20-year National Strategic Plan, Sea and Land Corporation co. Ltd. has begun gradually installing beach drainage systems using Elastopave® across Thailand. South Pattaya Beach has benefitted from the system, with Bang Sean and Jomtien beaches following very soon.
Professor Dr. Thanawat Jarupongsakul of Sea and Land Corporation explained the project and its benefits: “With water levels at the Gulf of Thailand rising at a rate of four millimeters a year and intensified flooding during storm seasons, coastal protection has become one of the key priorities for many cities across Thailand.”
“Through in-depth research coupled with strong support from BASF and our technical partner, Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT), we have successfully developed a new drainage system to minimize soil and beach erosion along coastlines.”
The drainage system comprises long columns of gravel bonded with Elastopave® sinking directly into the ground. This allows stormwater to seep through the system and disperse back out to sea, dramatically reducing the effects of climate change-driven storm systems and rising seawater levels. It also contributes to groundwater recharge and is cost-effective compared to other contemporary systems.
Elastocoast: Using Polyurethane Surfaces for Coastal Protection in the Age of Climate Change
Climate change is a growing threat to vulnerable coastal communities across the world. In recent years, there has been an increasing number of news reports on how coastal flooding has affected the livelihoods and living space for the approximately 40% of people that live within 100 km of coastal areas.
Increased population density and economic activity near coastal areas put additional strain on coastal ecosystems. Experts predict that sea levels will rise to 50 cm in the coming years.
Video Credit: BASF/YouTube.com
Elastocoast® is a new solution that will help protect communities from the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels, increased flooding and coastal erosion. Building on the research that led to the development of Elastopave®, this new approach to coastal defense utilizes an extremely open-pore structure to reduce the destructive force of high tides.
Elastocoast® can also be used to make riverbanks, beds and slopes that are threatened by landslides safer. This new approach is also water-resistant and extremely durable, and can be added to existing dikes and breakwaters.
The Future of Permeable Concrete Technology
BASF is the world’s second-largest chemical producer with a presence in 80 countries. With Elastopave® and materials that are being developed from this revolutionary technology, the company hopes to secure the sustainability of human civilization for years to come. It is through innovative ideas such as this that forward-thinking companies can provide unique solutions to our most pressing problems.
References and Further Reading
Elastopave®: Not just another material, but a totally new concept for infrastructure [Online] BASF.com. Available at: https://www.basf.com/global/en/products/plastics-rubber/corpus/infrastructure/elastopave-not-just-another-material.html (Accessed on 1 April 2020)
Chakma, J. (2019) BASF offers tech to fight waterlogging. [Online] Thedailystar.net. Available at: https://www.thedailystar.net/business/news/basf-offers-tech-fight-waterlogging-1803505 (Accessed on 1 April 2020)
At the mercy of the elements – Or protected by Elastocoast ® [Online] BASF.com. Available at: https://plastics-rubber.basf.com/global/en/performance_polymers/products/elastocoast.html (Accessed on 1 April 2020)
Permeable surfaces [Online] NWRM.eu. Available at: http://nwrm.eu/measure/permeable-surfaces (Accessed on 1 April 2020)
18 Surprising Projections About the Future of Water [Online]. Seametrics.com. Available at: https://www.seametrics.com/blog/future-water/ (Accessed on 1 April 2020)