If the idea and vision of the three civil engineer research scholars comes to fruition, India’s rapidly depleting groundwater will see a revival, and soon. The research scholars from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Banaras Hindu University (BHU) have developed a brick that lets water pass through it. These ‘sustainable paver blocks’ are aimed at usage on roads and pavements to prevent floods and waterlogging during heavy rain. According to the researchers, these are economically feasible as the bricks are made using construction waste and are porous so that they can help replenish the groundwater level directly.

Research students of IIT-BHU have come up with a new kind of brick, made out of waste and that can be put into roads directly, or pavements at least, and used to harness rainwater. The credit for the invention goes to three research scholars — Mayank Sukhija, Mohit Chaudhary and Nirmal Prasad — all PhD scholars at the civil engineering department, transportation section at the institute and Nikhil Saboo their supervisor.

Saving Rainwater The Green Way

In the Hindu, the researchers tell the interviewer that the brick can be made using available materials—polymer substance, fibrous substance, and a chemical that is specially developed at IIT.  The team used cement, reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) or waste material obtained from roads and pavements, superplasticiser and water to make this brick. They are now working on different combination ratios of the products to create strengths for varied uses, such as carrying heavyweight objects as well.

Any old or new plastic can be used, for example, broken buckets, to make tiles and bricks using this technology. This makes the brick is porous with several seepage paths in it. They can be used to make roads and pathways and when it rains, the water seeps down to the ground easily without getting the road waterlogged.

These newly developed bricks and tiles are also strong and durable—they will remain intact even if heavy vehicles run over them, which means they can be utilized in urban terrains where roads are mostly waterlogged during rains.

According to another interview, the recent heavy rains and the resultant flooding in the Bihar/Patna region inspired the trio to shift from their individual theses to work on this project. “Recently, heavy rains led to waterlogging near our campus. We thought of creating something that could directly pass rainwater into the ground. It took us one-and-a-half months to come up with this product,” Mayank said.

The researchers say, rightfully so, that there is no system of conserving rainwater. Most of it goes waste, despite harnessing materials. If roads and pavements are used, the groundwater levels will also increase. Most areas in metros and cities are concrete and can be converted into harnessing sites as they have closed channels underneath.

The researchers aim to make 500 different blocks for testing. They are however yet to to finalise the cost. Since the only cost of creating this product is that of cement, besides construction waste and water, they believe they can easily procure the rest of the items at affordable rates.