On the Right Road

Published: 01/10/2019 By Allan Fuller

Dr Rajagopalan Vasudevan is an amazing man, a Professor and Dean of  Thiagaraja College of Engineering, Madurai India.
His mantra is ‘ My father always told me that it is easy to earn money but it is very difficult to contribute to your country’s growth; these words have motivated me always to do more and be more.’ 

Rajagopalan is a scientist who has worked mainly in waste management. He developed an innovative method to reuse plastic waste to construct better, more durable and very cost-effective roads. This method will improve roads and also will save environment from dangerous plastic waste. The roads also show greater resistance to damages caused by heavy rains. His road construction method is now widely used to construct roads in rural India.  He was awarded India's fourth highest civilian honour, Padma Shri in 2018. 

His system works by turning waste plastic into a tar substitute. By heating aggregate to 160 degrees C, and spraying the solution over it the aggregate is coated  and then mixed with bitumen. This reduces the amount of asphalt needed by 15%.
So far this has been used for 50,000 km of roads. It has been shown that the result is roads that are double the strength of ordinary asphalt roads, it is claimed that the roads are unaffected by rain or stagnated water and an absence of potholes.  

He has not only tackled a problem that hits home alone, but a universal one. With annually 500 billion plastic bags used worldwide, most of which are thrown into the depths of our oceans, plastic wastes are taking up a heavy amount of space on our planet, the kind we can’t afford to give up any more without taking steps towards utility-focused recycling of these products. It may take years of effort and money to tackle this problem, but the usage of an invention like Vasudevan’s does give our planet a possibility of a sustainable future.