Concrete doesn’t usually warrant adjectives like “amazing” or “revolutionary”, but those seem like perfect words to describe a new development in the roadway material.
This “thirsty concrete” as it’s been dubbed soaks up water almost instantaneously. The Topmix Permeable concrete developed by Tarmac, a UK building materials company, can soak up 36,000 millimeters of water an hour, or approximately 880 gallons every minute. That’s an incredible leap from traditional concrete that can only soak up around 300 millimeters of water an hour.
The building material’s developers are excited about its potential in helping to keep floodwaters at bay. “Being able to control and actively manage the drainage of rainwater from the developed landscape significantly reduces the risk of surface water flooding, protecting both the natural and built environment”, the company explains on its website.
Permeable pavement requires more maintenance due to blockage and as water flows through the concrete, it can mix with the dirt underneath and harden inside the gaps. This can cause water levels to quickly rise during heavy rain.
The main difference between this new “thirsty concrete” and traditional pavement though, is sand. Rather than pour the asphalt over sand, Tarmac paves it on top of tiny pieces of crushed granite packed together that allow water to pass through easier. The concrete not only soaks up water incredibly fast, but also could cut down on heat in urban areas. Because of the pores within the pavement, urban roadways would not able to retain as much heat as normal asphalt.
The company is only a few months old, but manager Craig Burgess says that the product has been in development for several years. A golf course and car lot in the UK has already used it, but we probably won’t be seeing it widespread in the immediate future. Right now the concrete doesn’t last well in colder climates or incredibly high volume-barring roadways.