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Mexican Student Invents Rubber Road Pavement That Self-Repairs When Exposed to Rainwater

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A civil engineering student in Mexico created a new self-regenerating rubber compound made from recycled tires which could repair damaged roads every time it rains. His invention has the potential of saving billions of dollars for governments and the construction industry globally.

Israel Antonio Briseño Carmona, studying at the Autonomous University of Coahuila in Torreón, Mexico, is the national winner for Mexico in the 2019 James Dyson Award.

Briseño told Mexican news portal Expansión:

“What happens is that when it rains, water filters down to the sub-base , creating a fault, and when cars pass over it, it collapses. That’s why I wanted to turn the main material that deteriorates into one that can recover. This project water to instead be a source of maintenance for our roads.”

The idea came to Briseño after his dissatisfaction with initial experiments using an asphalt formula. His formula using recycled rubber from tires was a winner, being much cheaper, sustainable and reducing tire waste.

His entry for the James Dyson Award explains how the product works:

‘’The pavement was inspired by concrete that regenerates with bacteria, transferring its chemical functionalities to the pavement without the use of bacteria. Everything is born from the additives used because there is homogenization with the material and the rubber when they are at high temperature but following the same process of manufacture of the asphalt pavement. The regeneration is due to a putty that is created when rubber and additives are mixed, this putty is in contact with the water creates calcium silicates which is one of the components of the regeneration and physical-chemical improvement of the pavement.’’

 Briseño patented his invention under the name Paflec in April and hopes to find a construction company to team up with since he will need a partnership to certify and tender such a project.

To turn his concept into reality, Briseño has devised a three-step plan:

  1. Enlist the help of an engineer to help sort out any potential problems and building a strip of road for testing purposes.
  2. Apply for certification for his system through the National Construction Organization (ONNCCE), with which he hopes to have the formula approved for use in Mexico.
  3. Get approval from national authorities to enable him to authorize contracts for use of the self-generating pavement.

Briseño said:

“At present there are already pavement types that can regenerate, but none use water as a means of regeneration made of tires.”

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