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

Society improves with new ideas, and what is only an innovation at some point, would eventually become a standard.

Numerous bright and creative minds around the world seek new ways and strategies to solve common issues of the modern era and make life easier and better.

The creation of a civil engineering student in Mexico could become the best weapon against damaged roads, leading to billions of dollars saved for governments on infrastructure costs and the construction industry globally.

Namely, Israel Antonio Briseño Carmona, studying at the Autonomous University of Coahuila in Torreón, Mexico, created a new self-regenerating rubber compound made from recycled tires that could repair damaged roads every time it rains.

This invention helped him win the national James Dyson Award this year.

Briseño explains:

“What happens is that when it rains, water filters down to the sub-base [of the pavement], 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 [can allow] water to instead be a source of maintenance for our roads.”

He got the idea after he was dissatisfied with initial experiments using an asphalt formula. His formula won since it is much cheaper, sustainable and reduced tire waste.

“Damage is caused by rain filtering to the base of pavements, weakening it and creating subsidence. This is how the idea [for] turning the greatest degradation agent into a recovery agent was born.”

Briseño adds:

“At present, there are already pavement types that can regenerate, but none use water as a means of regeneration [nor are they] made of tires.”

His entry for the James Dyson Award explains the product:

“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.’’

He patented it under the name Paflec, and now seeks a construction company to team up, so he could certify and tender such a project.

He also has a three-step plan:

  • To find an engineer to help sort out any potential problems and build a strip of road for testing purposes.
  • Apply for certification through the National Construction Organization (ONNCCE)
  • Get it approved from national authorities so he could authorize contracts for use of the self-generating pavement.

Meanwhile, in his home country, Mexico, 80 percent of the pavement is asphalt and 20 percent is hydraulic cement. He noted that they are poor materials when considering the importance of roads as the crucial infrastructure for society.