Polypropylene fibre being laid on a Jamshedpur road on Wednesday. (Bhola Prasad)
After earning kudos for its plastic-waste road in Circuit House Area, Jamshedpur, Tata Steel subsidiary and civic utility company Jusco has turned to plastic fibre mesh imported from Gujarat to make a 500m city stretch resistant to water and heavy load.
Polypropylene fibre — plastic fibre mesh in layman’s language — strengthens conventional bitumen to give a road the strength to take on high-density vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
Nowadays, plastic mesh is usually used to make highways smooth and crack-free.
In Jamshedpur, the experiment on the nearly 500m stretch between Baug-E-Jamsheed and Jubilee Court roundabout on the busy Old Court Road was completed on December 18.
Construction had started on December 15. The road took only four days to finish.
To make a plastic mesh road, a roll of polypropylene fibre is coated with an adhesive on both sides and sandwiched between two layers of flat bitumen surfaces.
Then, a road roller applies pressure to make the sandwich virtually unbreakable.
Though it is early days yet, Jusco is happy with the results.
“We have used polypropylene fibre or simply plastic fibre mesh for the first time in a city road as a pilot project. We procured the plastic fibre from a Gujarat company, Geo Tech Private Limited. Similar fibres have been used in national highways of Gujarat and approved by Indian Road Congress. Roads built with this material have a longer life span,” said Jusco spokesperson Rajesh Rajan.
If the experiment succeeds, it will spell a new road ahead for the city that so far has relied on bitumen roads.
Plastic mesh will be used as reinforcement — to prevent water seepage and as a natural corollary restrict cracks for better durability — in different A-class or important roads of the steel city with high footfall and traffic.
Rajan, who said that the plastic mesh roads would cost around 20 per cent more than conventional ones to build, enumerated the advantages.
“Technically, we called the project non-woven paving fabric and used polypropylene plastic fibres as mesh. One of the cheapest and abundantly available polymers, it is resistant to most chemical attacks and most crucially, water. That’s what makes it a very good crack arrester. In contrast, water is the main enemy of only-bitumen roads. Water-logging reduces the durability of the bituminous topcoat by a whopping 90 per cent,” he said.
Jusco knows what it is saying.
Its planning, engineering and construction cell undertook extensive research to prove that the strength and durability of roads built with plastic mesh reinforced bitumen was greater.
“We were really happy with the durability of our plastic waste road outside the I-T Commissioner’s Office even after this year’s monsoon. But we understand that a plastic mesh road is tougher. Compared to a conventional road that can withstand up to 60 tonne at a point, this can take over 100 tonne,” Rajan said.