Polymers can be used for road-laying: study
By S. Annamalai
MADURAI, NOV. 19. As the civic bodies grapple with the problem of disposing of plastic waste, the Department of Chemistry of the Thiagarajar College of Engineering here has come out with a novel way of disposal. A project, undertaken by the college, has showcased the use of polymer materials along with bitumen for effective road laying.
The project has surmised that preventing the use of polymers is impossible but an alternative way of reusing them would prevent the damage caused by them to the ecosystem.
According to Dr. R. Vasudevan, Professor and Head, Department of Chemistry, who guided the work, polymers like polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene can be easily mixed with bitumen and the homogenous mixture used with gravel for road spreading. The blend, he claims, is ``good in many respects''. The total quantity of bitumen used for road spreading and the quantity of polymer waste in the country is in the ratio of 50:1, which is less than the solubility ratio of polymers in bitumen.
Dr. Vasudevan said the mixture of any polymer with bitumen had proved to possess better values, compared to bitumen itself. By mixing the polymeric materials with bitumen, it would be possible to impart better strength as the polymers interact chemically with the mixture and enable cross linking. The polymer added in the mixture would also prevent ``bleeding and evaporation''. In fact, a polymer-bitumen mixture is a better alternative for road laying, according to the study.
The polymer-bitumen mixture has distinct advantages in road laying, especially in India whose climatic conditions require lower penetration property. This property is demonstrated by the mixture. The compound, the study has shown, can also withstand high temperatures and gets softened only at 57 degree C. This is higher when compared with bitumen which melts at lower temperatures during summer.
The polymer-bitumen road will not be affected by swings in temperature. The mixture, according to Dr. Vasudevan, provides better skid resistance and reduces cracks on pavements. Above all, it facilitates the disposal of polymer waste in a more useful way, rather than by burning or burying.
Though recycling of polymer waste is an industry in itself in the country, the municipal solid wastes contain large proportions of polymeric materials whose disposal has turned into a big problem. Even their burning causes air pollution. At the same time, recycling of plastic has become a major activity in the country through which thousands of families earn their livelihood. Any decision to suddenly restrict the use of plastics, the study has pointed out, would result in serious economic and social repercussions. In this context, the use of plastic waste in road laying will be an answer to protect the environment.
The study asserts that this manner of disposal of polymer waste will not cause any disturbance to the ecosystem. The non- biodegradability of polymers, clogging of sewage and water lines and health hazards to animals who eat plastic could be avoided by using the polymers for road laying. By doing this, the waste plastic will remain only on the roads, mixed with bitumen, and not elsewhere.
The former principal scientific advisor to the Prime Minister, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, has commended the students who have undertaken the project, during his recent visit to the college.
The study has been undertaken by Messrs. A. Vijay Sundar, P. Jegatheesan and S. Nagendiran, M. Sc. students.
Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, former principal scientific advisor to the Prime Minister, inspecting polymer-bitumen mixture during his recent visit to the Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai.
Green Corps soon to guard environment
Times News Network
NEW DELHI: The Centre will soon launch the National Green Corps (NGC) and introduce environmental education in school curriculum to spread awareness about environment in the society
Covering 50,000 schools across the country, the NGC would be in compliance of the Supreme Court order in 1991. On environmentalist lawyer M C Mehta's petition seeking better environment for all, the Centre told the apex court in its affidavit Monday that the environment ministry has "gone far ahead with regard to implementation of environmental awareness programmes". The HRD ministry has also come out with the national policy on education and environmental concerns. This policy not only envisaged integration of environmental education in the school curriculum hut also related issues such as ecological decay, resource depletion neighborhood education, tourism education, awareness about aids, human rights, safety and problems of over population.
"Towards achieving these objectives, the NCERT has brought out the national curriculum framework for school education, 2000, which has as one of its core concerns the understanding of the environment in its totality, both natural and social and their interaction process, the environmental problems and the ways and means to preserve the environmental'' the government said.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has constituted a standing committee for environment studies to advise it for imparting environmental education in the university system as well as to consider new proposals for introduction of courses under the UGC's "innovative programmes".
Additional solicitor-general Kirit Raval said NGC involves establishment of eco-clubs in about 100 schools in each district, covering around 50,000 schools in the country. Raval said the eco-clubs through NGC would address various subjects for protecting and improving the environment for example solid waste management.