NTX Magazine Volume 3 - Page 59

Industry Spotlight manufacturing along two North Texas highways to stop slope failure from destroying the roadway – a problem researchers say is almost everywhere in Texas. Motorists speeding down Highway 287 in Midlothian may not notice the difference, but the state surely will, as the improvements to the roadway will last 15 to 20 years before needing maintenance, according to Hossain. The scheme’s low price is matched by its high effectiveness. In a two-year feasibility study, sections of Highway 287 with the 10-foot-long pins drilled into the roadway slope moved only one to two inches. Hossain’s team reinforced only part of the hillside so they could contrast it with the section where the plastic pins were inserted. The untreated area shows a noticeably steeper drop-off from the original crack in the pavement, approximately 15 to 16 inches. With reinforcement from these plastic pins, Hossain predicts highways will last 15 to 20 years before needing maintenance. Hossain has plenty of material to work with: it is estimated that Americans throw away 35 billion plastic bottles each year. That doesn’t even take into account plastic recyclables available the world over. Because they are made from recycled plastic—each pin contains about 500 soda bottles—the pin concept turns plastic’s non-decomposition from an environmental headache to an engineering solution. Five hundred soda bottles are used to make just one pin. Multiply that by 600 and that’s about 300,000 soda bottles being kept out of the landfills for just one stretch of highway. “Texas has limited resources available to maintain state highways, so anything we can do to extend the life of our roads is Highway innovation A team of UT Arlington researchers gather along U.S. 287 to install recycled plastic pins in failed soil along that highway’s slope. Sahadat Hossain, a UT Arlington associate professor of Civil Engineering, designed the system which has had some success in Texas. good for our state,” Hossain said in a news release by UT Arlington. “Our innovative process strengthens the soil slopes with recyclable plastics in a way that is good for motorists and the earth.” Ashfaq Adnan, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace eng