Disaster-Ready Concrete Absorbs 880 Gallons of Water Per Minute

October 9, 2015 | Kelly Tatera

Photo credit: Tarmac/Youtube

This new type of concrete will allow disaster-prone areas to minimize damage from floods caused by major storms.

Flash floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis cause major devastation to disaster-prone areas, sometimes even resulting in deaths. The aftermath of these natural disasters can rack up millions of dollars in property damages, mostly caused by water overflowing in drainage systems and running off pavements.

Remarkably, a UK building materials and solutions company, Tarmac, created a new disaster-ready concrete called Topmix Permeable. The permeability of traditional concrete allows around eight gallons of water to drain through per hour, but Topmix Permeable drains approximately 880 gallons per minute. Impressive, to say the least.

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The technology has been developing for the last six years, according to product development manager Craig Burgess. He told Tech Insider that one of the biggest issues with permeable pavements is that they require a lot of maintenance since water can mix with underlying dirt and eventually harden, reducing the degree of permeability.

Topmix Permeable provides a solution to the problem with a technique called “paste control,” which maintains the porosity of the concrete over time. The top level of the concrete is comprised of relatively large pebbles which help to drain water instantly.

Then, the “attenuation layer” continues the water drainage into a system connecting to the city’s groundwater reservoirs. So for everyone worrying that thousands of gallons of water will simply go to waste, the Topmix Permeable system transports it to be used for drinking water, firefighting purposes, irrigation, and swimming pools.

The system also offers three different drainage techniques to accommodate the needs of different cities throughout the world. The “full infiltration” design sends all water through Topmix concrete to sink into the soil underneath, so it’s useful in areas that don’t need to collect rainwater. Next, the “partial infiltration” system has a semi-permeable barrier beneath Topmix that drains the water into sewers or waterways. Finally, the “full attenuation” system captures all of the water that flows through the Topmix concrete, enabling areas with unclean water to reuse it later.

Essentially, Topmix Permeable could work wonders in all disaster-prone areas except for extremely cold climates. If the water freezes over, the entire system would be destroyed — so for now, the concrete can only be implemented in areas where temperatures don’t drop below freezing.

Although it will take more time to develop a system for areas with particularly cold climates, Topmix Permeable still has the ability to mitigate the effects of natural disasters when damages and deaths could be caused by excessive water.

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