The just ended weekend was fun but tedious! The team had to implement the chosen bitumen-plastic mixture that was observed to be the strongest of the prototypes made. A brief recap from our prototyping stage: during the formation of different samples of plastic and bitumen composites, it was observed that as more pieces plastic was added to the bitumen, the more saturated the mixture became. Hence forming a tougher composite. During the testing phase, it was observed that the composite sample with the least amount of plastic easily melted when exposed to the sun or any warm environment. However, the composite sample with the highest amount of plastic could withstand warm environmental conditions and direct heat from the sun because it was tough.
This brought excitement to the team because our main hypothesis for the experiment was validated in this testing phase. This implied that PET plastic materials could be channeled into road construction since it makes the tar mixture stronger, reduces the bitumen ratio and helps in curbing land pollution by plastic materials. Essentially, this initiative benefits the entire community.
Now back to our main story for today! Yippee! Last week Saturday, April 14, 2018, the team went out to implement our chosen bitumen-plastic road construct composite on a large pothole found on the road in between two highly patronize hostels in Ashesi. The road in question is between the Dufie Hostels and Hossana Hostel. The implementation process started off at about 9:30am and lasted till approximately 2:00pm. This task was not as easy as expected. A major challenge was the lack of sophisticated equipment to efficiently melt and mix the two materials (plastic and bitumen). Thus, every process undertaken was done manually. The bitumen was melted over a fireplace made with blocks and wood. Then the shredded pieces of plastic were added until the mixture had reached and was becoming more viscous. The pothole was filled with gravels and the hot bitumen-plastic mixture was poured over the gravels. Due to the absence of a roller to smoothen the final road construct, a wooden structure was used to guide the flow of the flow of the hot mixture for a while.
The reason just a portion of the potholes on the road was considered is because the road is usually busy, and it is the only major route for vehicles moving to any of the aforementioned hostels. Hence it will be impossible to block the entire road for the implementation process. One side was blocked whiles other side open to allow cars to continue using the road without driving over the hot bitumen-plastic mixture.
Now, the road construct is observed daily, which is supposed to last a minimum of 10 days. This observation will further inform the team on the durability of our road construct and help validate our stance increasingly.
After all is said and done, it’s still a COLOURFUL PLASTIC VICTORY!!!!