Nanotechnology – Paves New Wave of Sustainable Roads

With a vision to ‘Innovate, Sustain and Redefine’, Zydex Industries upholds nanotechnology as the effective mode to build roads for the future. Vivek Kane, Executive Vice President, Zydex Industries, in an interaction with Veena Kurup, Elets News Network (ENN) details the core process, benefits and need for this new constructional reformation.

Vivek Kane,
Executive Vice President,
Zydex Industries

Roads are a vital component in nation building and one of the most effective modes to establish socio-economic and political networks. For a country like India, blessed with robust monsoons, moisture becomes an enemy of the roads. Ingress of water in the rainy season weakens the road’s soil base, de-bonds the prime and tack coats, and destroys the bituminous layers, causing undulations and potholes that affect the ride-quality of the road-surface. Clearly, it is evident that the traditional and prevalent technology for road construction provides very limited protection against moisture, ultimately resulting in poor quality of roads during monsoons. This leads to a shorter lifespan for road, increased cost of in maintenance, repair and redevelopment of the roads.
Nanotechnology is one such reformed modes which when potentially adopted can redefine and address the rising concern of poor quality roads. As per the American Chemical Society, one nanometer is on billionth of a meter. Nanotechnology deals with sizes between 1-99 nanometers. A size 100 nanometer or more is considered as 0.1 micrometer, which is out of the gamut of nanotechnology.
The technology though has spread its wing across distinct scientific processes also plays a pivotal role in the road construction, especially in building sustainable roads

“Nanotechnology is expected to revolutionize the urban and rural India”  

 Battling Hurdles in Distinct Soil Layers
rollerConstruction of a road involves development at distinct soil layers, viz, the sub-grade soil, granular soil, stone-layer and the bitumen surface. The soil is a combination of sand, silt and clay, and the combination of these three components defines whether it is expansive or non-expansive in nature. Of the three components, sand possesses least expansion, while clay expands the most. A major challenge involved in road construction is addressing the challenge of water penetration and moisture content in these layers of the soil, which leads to expansion, contraction and withering of the road surface. More expansive the soil, more challenging is the road construction. The soil, if expansive in nature, can develop cracks in the road surface due to the expansioncontraction cycles. After undergoing numerous such wet and dry cycles, especially during monsoons, the road surface ultimately withers and develops cracks or potholes. Though the road contractor is blamed for the poor workmanship, moisture penetration into the soil layers is also to blame for the deterioration.
Addressing these concerns hence is of vital importance for the construction of sustainable and long-lasting roads. Zydex Nanotechnology specializes in eliminating moisture related damages by waterproofing the soil bases, and chemically bonding the bitumen to aggregates like sand, clay etc, wherein the major focus is to eliminate moisture related damages. Zydex focuses to transform each layer of the soil – from sub-grade to granular to bitumen surface, completely waterproof and moisture resistant. Bitumen contains about 85-90 percent oil substance. The major challenge involved in road construction process is the usage of aggregates, which has a great affinity to water, due to the hydroxyl group or OH group, and absorbs water.
Zydex offers Zycotherm which is a chemically reactive anti-stripping nanotechnology agent for making roads durable. Upon mixing with hot liquid asphalt, Zycotherm reacts with the gravel and improves the wetting and spreading power of chemically modified asphalt on inorganic surfaced of gravels, sand and soil. It also improves asphalt-to-gravel adhesion. The product eliminates asphalt mix de-bonding due to inadequate and incomplete coating coupled with moisture ingress, thereby increasing the durability of asphalt pavements. Zycotherm warm mix, ensures 100 percent coating, workability, low temperature compaction and anti-stripping performance of the road surface. The products and technologies enable you to build moisture resistant, long lasting and maintenance free roads.
Boon for Indian Road Construction Bitumen consumption in India in the year 2011-12 was 4.5 million metric tons, costing `18,000 crores (current value). Of this, nearly 80 percent, valued at `14,400 crores was used for resurfacing. By doubling the lifespan of roads, Zydex Nanotechnologies can help save `7200 crores annually, in bitumen costs.
If bitumen at the refinery is modified with the Zydex Nanotechnology additives, the annual cost would be only `540 crores, thus saving `7200 crores to the nation annually. The saving on forex-intensive bitumen will allow governments to build and maintain more roads.
Moreover, the annual cost to the country for maintaining rural road assets is `21,700 Crores as per the Planning Commission report, stretching to 3.2 lakh km and non-PMGSY 25.5 lakh km. In view of the cost of waterproofing of about `12,000 per lane km for the top layer and side slopes, the rain inflicted damages can be brought down very economically and thus substantial amount of the `21,700 crores can be saved every year.

Beneficial for Contractors
Road construction involves two parties – the owner of the road and the contractor who builds or develops the road. The construction process also has a third aspect, wherein the contractor and owner of the road is a single authority or individual. Such a situation is applicable in the case of Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT). In a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) mode, the contractor invests in building a road, operates it and collects road tolls, and after a period of 20 years or so, the road is passed on to the actual owner or the authoritative body. Cost involved in construction and maintenance in road construction is a major economic challenge faced by the contractors.
Nanotechnology addresses the issues of construction cost and maintenance that arise during the road construction. The technology as makes the soil content and soil surface waterproof, increases the road’s lifespan and minimizes the maintenance costs. Furthermore, if the contractor has the authority for design modifications, then by reducing the thickness of road, utilization of limited materials like bitumen can be minimized. This results in saving 10-15 percent of the total road construction cost. Even if a contractor is not empowered to make any design modifications, savings in construction cost can be achieved by the mere reduction in the usage of bitumen. Zydex Nanotechnology allows better compaction in the road construction, which ultimately results in time efficiency in the construction process. Also, the less effort or manpower is required in achieving the desired compaction through the utilization of Zydex Nanotechnology.

Adoption in India
Zydex Nanotechnology can efficiently play a pivotal role in road construction, especially in enhancing the durability, maintenance and lifespan of rural roads. Considering these benefits, Zydex has initiated this technology through the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. The Indian government has clearly stated that the local authorities must use new technology for developing at least 5 percent of roads in India. Zydex Industries too was successful in convincing the government for utilizing these reformative technologies in the road construction process. This technology was used during the construction of the Hyderabad-Karimnagar-Ramagundam Four Laning Road (SH-1) in Andhra Pradesh, wherein Zycosoil was mixed with asphalt. An 8 km stretch of the Upshi Sarchu Mountain Road under Border Roads in Leh, Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir also used this technology. A three and half kilometer project in Gujarat and a 40 km project in Karnataka were launched recently. Global Reach Though the technology is at a nascent stage in India, it is used extensively worldwide. Zydex Nanotechnology enjoys robust commercial presence in countries like the United States of America, Canada, Spain, Mexico, Columbia, Peru, Nigeria, Ghana etc. Foreseeing these potentials, Zydex Industries will be exploring into Germany, UK, Sweden, Poland, Russia, Czech Republic, Turkey, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan and many more such regions by this year.

Sustainability through Innovation
roadsZydex Nanotechnology additives allow moisture proofing of soil layers and reduce moisture permeability by 500 – 1000 times. They strengthen the soil by increasing the California Bearing Ratio (CBR) of soil, reduce expansiveness by 90% and eliminate undulations and cracking. Nanotechnology based additives make Bond Coats (Prime and Tack) 100 percent waterproof, allowing 100 percent stress transfer and saving bitumen by achieving chemical bonding.
Zydex Nanotechnology contributes to global sustainability by enabling the construction of future ‘Green Roads’. Its ability to conserve perishing natural resources like bitumen and aggregates for future generations enables it to achieve this goal. Zydex Nanotechnology minimizes the use of materials, particularly components like bitumen, during road construction. In addition, the technology tranforms the locally available non-resistant waterlogged soil into waterproof soil. This minimizes the cost of materials involved in the rural road development, which is a major hurdle faced by contractors. Also, this technology allows utilization of recycled asphalt and even crumbed rubber (disposable tyres) in road construction.
A major benefit associated with Zydex Nanotechnology is the increased road lifespan and reduced repair and maintenance. As we observed in our projects executed worldwide, use of technology in road construction increases the structures lifespan from an average healthy lifespan of 7 years to 15 years.
Zydex Nanotechnologies are cost neutral at CAPEX and improve the road’s durability, reducing its lifecycle cost by 50 percent or more. Nanotechnology is expected to revolutionize urban and rural India, like mobile phones did earlier

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