The future is coming, and it’s arriving at Chawathil: the First Nation will be the first place in Canada to have a self-healing road.
“Chawathil is a very interesting community, very forward-thinking and modern-thinking,” said Dr. Nemy Banthia, who’s the research chair and University of British Columbia (UBC) professor behind self-healing concrete. “They welcomed us to bring this new technology into their community.
“And it’s very impactful technology,” Banthia continued. The First Nation will be getting a “highly loaded parking lot and an approach road with lots and lots of traffic.” Between the parking lot and the road, Banthia says there will be several hundred square feet of the concrete installed in Chawathil.
Created in his IC-IMPACTS (India-Canada Centre for Innovative Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Accelerate Community Transformation and Sustainability) lab, a federal research initiative based at UBC, Banthia says the self-healing road technology is a fibre-reinforced concrete that’s made through combining tire fibres, plant-based cellulose fibres, and a nano-coated manufactured fibre material: “It’s a hybrid system of (recycled and manufactured) products,” the professor explained.
“We’ve already installed a self-healing road in the south of India, in a very small village, but it has completely transformed the village,” Banthia said. Since the road was installed in 2016, “it has required no maintenance … despite extreme heat and monsoon rains.”
Self-healing concrete reduces crack formation by more than 90 per cent compared to regular concrete, uses recycled products, “has the (smallest) carbon footprint, and lasts at least five times longer. Concrete structures naturally develop cracks over time, but these fibres are designed to bridge the cracks as they form, enabling the structure to withstand extreme weather conditions and last longer.
“It’s tremendously exciting to be able to use technology tested and proven overseas to address infrastructure challenges (in) Canadian communities,” Banthia added.
On Thursday, May 2, Banthia attended Chawathil First Nation for the groundbreaking of their new self-healing roadway and parking lot.
“We’re very happy to finally be taking this technology to a First Nation community … (and) my assumption is it will be done by the end of July.
“But we hope to scale this further, as we have a huge competitive advantage (and a) really Canadian innovation,” Banthia said during a telephone interview. “We’ll certainly watch how the pavement performs to ensure it holds up and meets the requirements of (a Canadian) community” because the possibilities for this product are nearly endless.
“It can be used everywhere. Everywhere concrete is used this can be used: buildings, bridges, sidewalks. And it’s a basic material” that’s even earthquake safe, Banthia said.
For more information on IC-IMPACTS, please visit their website at IC-IMPACTS.com.