A few months ago, we reported that renowned artist Christo is constructing The Floating Piers, a modular dock system of 200,000 high-density polyethylene cubes which will float on the surface of Italy’s Lake Iseo. The installation will be done by joining the cubes with large screws and securing them on the water by 140 anchors. (Read the full post, You Can Walk Across a Lake… and That’s Not An April Fool’s Day Joke.)
Now, the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, in cooperation with VolkerWessels, may be embarking on a similar project, the PlasticRoad. According to the company’s website, PlasticRoad is more efficient and environmentally responsible than convention road material:
PlasticRoad’s concept is in line with developments such as Cradle to Cradle and The Ocean Cleanup: the initiative to free the seas of ‘plastic soup’. Recycled plastic is made into prefabricated road parts that can be installed in one piece. The prefabricated production and the lightweight design also make the construction of a PlasticRoad into a much simpler task. Roads can be built in weeks instead of months. It is also much easier to control the quality of the road (stiffness, water drainage etc.).
PlasticRoad is a virtually maintenance free product. It is unaffected by corrosion and the weather. The road structure handles temperatures as low as -40 degrees and as high as 80 degrees Celsius with ease. It is also much more resistant to chemical corrosion. Estimations predict that the lifespan of roads will be tripled. That means less road maintenance and less to no traffic jams and detours.
In an interview with The Guardian, Rolf Mars, the director of VolkerWessels’ roads subdivision, said, “It’s still an idea on paper at the moment; the next stage is to build it and test it in a laboratory to make sure it’s safe in wet and slippery conditions and so on.”
The plastic manufacturing process requires rigorous testing and analysis of the material to ensure the formulation will produce a successful finished product. In the example of plastic road material, tests will likely examine temperature and stress tolerance, strength, and weather resistance.
There are many ways plastic materials can be tested. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) is a method of choice for many industrial applications, including the manufacture of polymeric materials. FTIR spectroscopy offers almost unlimited analytical opportunities in the areas of design, production, quality control, failure analysis, and problem solving. The most popular and easy-to-use sample analysis technique available in modern FTIR spectrometers is ATR, or Attenuated Total Reflectance, using diamond crystals. ATR enables samples to be examined directly in the solid or liquid state without further preparation. Other techniques include Specular Reflectance and Diffuse Reflectance.
Check out our recommended reading list to learn more about how FTIR spectroscopy is an integral part of plastic manufacturing.
- The Attenuated Total Reflection (ATR) Technique for Analyzing Plastics
- Inspecting Polymers Using FT-IR and True Specular Reflectance
- Catch My DRIFTS? The FT-IR Diffuse Reflectance Sample Handling Technique for Polymers
- INFOGRAPHIC: FT-IR Sample Handling Index, Methods, and Ratings
- Data Management in a Polymer and Plastics Testing Lab
- Plastic and Polymer Problems? Check The Symptoms – Part 1
- Plastic and Polymer Problems? Check The Symptoms – Part 2
- Plastic and Polymer Problems? Check The Symptoms – Part 3
- Plastic and Polymer Problems? Check The Symptoms – Part 4