A rubber road that repairs itself when it rains has won a national prize from the James Dyson Award, an international competition that asks students and recent graduates to invent a solution to a problem.
The winner for Mexico was Israel Antonio Briseño Carmona, a student at the Coahuila Autonomous University in TorreÃ³n. His pavement is made from discarded tires to which an additive is mixed to form a putty. When it rains, the water reacts with the additive to form calcium silicates that strengthen the road.
Carmona says he was inspired by the invention of concrete that regenerates itself using bacteria, and by his own observations that potholes formed after rain. He said: "Every time it rains in my city roads [get] damaged and it takes a lot of time to maintain a damaged street. I was determined to create a pavement capable of withstanding the rain."
He added: "What happens is that when it rains, water filters down to the sub-base creating a fault and when a car goes over it, it collapses. That’s why I wanted to turn the main agent of deterioration into an agent of recovery. With my project, water would be a source of maintenance for our roads."
Briseño obtained a patent for his unique idea in April under the name Paflec. He is presently planning to build a short section of road to "resolve doubts" about his idea. He will then seek approval for it from the national building certification organisation ONNCCE and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation.
Other national winners of the Dyson Award included a compostable replacement for plastic (UK), an electric tricycle for carrying cargo (New Zealand), and a self-sanitising door handle (China).
Image: The rubber road concept will be tested in the northern Mexican town of TorreÃ³n (Carlos Sanchez Pereyra/Dreamstime.com)