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Rajagopalan Vasudevan: The Plastic Man Of India a True Superhero

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Varidhi Yadav

Surprisingly not a lot of Indian’s know about Rajagopalan Vasudevan, our very own superhero.

Unlike the DC Comics guy, he came forward to help our country with the never-ending plastic waste generated on a daily basis.

A regular Professor of Chemistry called Rajagopalan Vasudevan at Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai realized that he has the potential of much more than just teach kids the formula of sodium carbonate.

And I know you are all dying to know what exactly is it that he did but let me build up some more suspense.

He gave one of the most effective ways to use plastic waste in this country to help get rid of various problems caused by plastic.

What did Rajagopalan Vasudevan discover?

In November 2015, a big and important decision was made by the Indian government.

They ordered all the road developers to use plastic with the bituminous mixes for road construction in order to overcome the problem of plastic waste disposal in India.

Rajagopalan Vasudevan: The Plastic Man Of India
Credits: thehindu.com

This technology was discovered by the plastic man of India which awarded him with a Padma Shri. He is known for his waste management skills and of course, the plastic roads.

How did it all start? Let’s see.

The problem of how to dispose of the plastic has been a really big issue in India since quite a few years.

It has caused so many problems like clogging, causing floods, animals choking to death, plastic going inside the soil ruining germination, etc.

The hills of garbage full of all this non-disposable plastic are growing, thousands of metric ton garbage is collected everyday from the households and industries with no proper way to get rid of it.

Prof Rajagopalan Vasudevan said that once he saw a doctor’s interview on the television talking about plastic dissolving in the oceans causing pollution.

Which according to him isn’t even possible in the first place considering plastic is a product of petroleum.

In the process of banning plastic in the country, he decided to experiment with different types of plastic compounds.

Rajagopalan Vasudevan
Credits: thehindu.com

Rajagopalan Vasudevan started his research to come up with some effective ways of disposal because plastic can’t be recycled more than four to five times. Also, it can’t be burned because of the harmful fumes, then what else can be done?

In one of his laboratory results, he realized that mixing plastic waste with heated bitumen can actually work in building effective roads.

He implemented this technique the very first time in his college premises in 2002 and as he says those roads are still intact after almost 16 years. They even got the technology patented in the year of 2006.

Now the range of plastic that could be used for the road construction was pretty wide.

Any plastic carry bag, cups, the packaging for chips, biscuits, candies, chocolates and what not which automatically increased the employments of the rag pickers.

How these roads are made using plastic?

The Plastic Man Of India
Credits: Banega Swachh India

Now the process of how this moisture for the road construction is made is said to be pretty simple.

The plastic is supposed to be shredded in small pieces then that is heated at 165°c and transferred to the mixing chamber.

Then the bitumen is heated at 160°c and mixed it together. It gives an oily weird look as you might expect, the road is laid at the temperature between 110°c to 120°c.

The plastic improves the quality of these roads keeping them together for much longer than usual. And of course, it takes a lot of plastic to cover a small stretch of road which is why a lot of plastic can be disposed of in this manner.

Prof Rajagopalan Vasudevan also came up with another innovation that includes plastic called the plastone.

He decided to try creating a stone block with the plastic coating and in 2012 the experiment was successful.

Now, this type of stone could stand up to pressure much better and it resists water percolation which is obvious because it’s plastic.

This is generally used for flooring, especially outdoors because the regular cement pavement would get ruined over the long course of the monsoon but the plastones won’t.

Prof Rajagopalan Vasudevan says that Swacch Bharat is our first priority and clearly he has done his part in the movement by giving this country an ultimate innovation.

Now, do your part as a responsible Indian to share this article as much as you can so more people can get to know about this true Indian Superhero.

Also read about another Indian Superhero, “Ranaram Bishnoi: The Tree Man Of India Who Planted 27k Trees Alone.


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