“Mixing polymers to subgrade soils, instead of the conventional practice of mechanical stabilization, resulted in higher strengths and stiffness than cement and more elasticity,” says Dr. Eyad Masad, a professor in mechanical engineering at the university. He gave a presentation about the development at TAMUQ’s first annual Research-Industry Partnership Showcase.
“Our research findings will contribute to long-lasting and better roads,” Dr. Masad says. The university is talking with Qatar’s public works authority to incorporate the method into infrastructure projects in that country, writes Bonnie James of Gulf Times.
The polymer mixed with subgrade soils decreases the brittleness of the road and prevents it from breaking and cracking because of heavy use. The mixture also reduces the amount of rutting, the creation of grooves, or the sinking of the road surface because of the passage of the vehicles.
“Asphalt roads in Qatar are constructed on loose soil,” Dr. Masad says, one of the reasons for road failure there. Researchers in laboratories at TAMUQ took soil samples used for road construction and mixed them with cement and the polymers. The polymer-mix soils failed only gradually, and extended the lifespan of the road and increased its durability, the researchers say.
If developed commercially, the method could be one of several similar products on the market that use polymers to strengthen roads, such as PolyPavement, Water$ave Flobind, and Ecobond. The products also prevent soil erosion and improve water-wicking capabilities.
Dale McGeehon has been a journalist and editor for more than 25 years, covering chemical regulation and testing for Pesticides and Toxic Chemical News and innovations in material sciences for the National Technology Transfer Center. His writing credits include Omni and College Park magazines and The New York Times.