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Monday, September 15, 2008

Instant Roads (Via Israeli Honey Combs?)

Roads are like the blood vessels of a country: they not only help connect everything together, but they also allow critical supplies to reach far away destinations.

Unfortunately maintaining them can be expensive, especially if one has to build a long winding road to a remote area (especially if trucks travel on them).

Fortunately an Israeli company is leading the way in not only finding an inexpensive alternative, but one that is environmentally friendly as well.

(Israel 21st Century) Schary, who's consulted for Israel's Environmental Protection Ministry on Sustainable Development, speaks with ISRAEL21c about the innovation. Represented in 40 countries, the company's product is "actually low-tech, high tech and cleantech all in one," he says. "Although the product is fairly dry, it's a soil stabilization solution for civil engineering projects, and inherently sustainable."

Developed as an advanced polymer, Neoweb can be laid out on land, and then filled with local soil, or recycled materials to form a road, or as infrastructure for landscape architects. Schary says the material - which holds promise for developing countries where one billion people lack access to all-weather roads - does not leach into groundwater, can withstand the scorching desert sun, the coldest of Siberian winters and is earthquake resistant due to its inherent flexibility.

Founded in the '90s, and used widely today by the oil industry, for the past five years Neoweb's been in Siberia to help trucks access oil fields. Neoweb plays its environmental part to an otherwise polluting industry by ensuring minimal damage to local terrain. With oil located thousands of kilometers in the middle of nowhere, it spares the companies from having to ship in mountains of aggregates, a traditional material used to create roads and infrastructure.

Even though this technology would probably not replace most of the roads we have in existence today (such as highways and other made for heavy traffic roads), these roads could make it easier for small towns and individuals living in rural communities to create stable and strong roads--without paying a fortune for material and labor.

Note: I wonder if Israel can use this to help build bridges with its neighbors in the middle east? (pun not intended)

Update: You can find more information regarding this technology over at PRS's corporate website.

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