Sand hardened by bacteria could create roads without using oil

Sandstone roads could replace regular asphalt. The resulting roads are 20% more reflective and can reduce the urban heat island effect by 2-3 degrees celsius. The project is a part of the iida awards 2010 competition, organized by designboom in collaboration with incheon (south korea) metropolitan city.

UPDATE : The more than ten year history of this research and nearer term applications for stronger and cheaper dikes and for better mining.

Scientists have produced a method of creating a biological substitute to asphalt, that could be produced at much lower costs, and have the same behavior as a paving material.

The new “sandstone” road surface is produced by using sand and a specific type of bacteria. The idea belongs to designers Thomas Kosbau and Andrew Wetzler, who are the winners of the Korean green design competition the iida awards.

The team says that mixing common sand – one of the most abundant resources on the planet – with a solution containing the microorganism Bacillus Pasteurii could result in a cementing process that turns the mix into biologically-engineered hardened sandstone.

After the two are mixed, the solution is sprayed on yet another layer of sand. The microbes act again, solidifying the layer underneath, and resulting in a tough, road-worthy material that can sustain heavy traffic.

Additionally, given the low cost of manufacturing the material, it will be a lot cheaper to repair it as well. When cracks appear, all maintenance crews will have to do is spray some of the bacteria solution within, and leave the road to solidify again.

Another architect published the same idea in 2008

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