Due to its tremendous water-absorption abilities, ultra-porous concrete is being tipped as the future for urban water run-off management for those countries which enjoy warm climates.
Engineers and architects across the globe have recognised over the years just how much potential this concrete holds and are delving deep into ultra-porous research.
A UK company, Tarmac, developed their own ultra-porous invention called Topmix Permeable. This concrete absorbs up to 4,000 litres of liquid in just the first 60 seconds alone, averaging 600 litres per minute, per metre squared.
Topmix Permeable is made using a top-layer of large pebbles poured and moulded into a hard, firm surface. The ultra-porous concrete material retains the strength of traditional concrete, but instead of remaining completely solid all the way through, this concrete benefits from sponge-like density which enables the water-absorption.
Rotterdam, in South Holland, the Netherlands is testing out permeable concrete at present.
Rainaway, an Eindhoven-based firm from the south of the Netherlands has come-up with a series of Japanese-style, ultra-porous tiles which use a mix of permeable and solid concrete materials to drain-off water and slow-down rainfall run-off by replicating the natural water cycle.
The Netherlands endures 800 millimetres of rainfall on average per year, so if this permeable concrete proves to work well under real-world conditions it could be a game-changer for urban centre infrastructure construction across the country into the future.
Both Tarmac’s Topmix Permeable and Rainaway’s tiles act less like a sponge (merely soaking-up the water) and more like a conduit for water drainage.
"During periods of rising temperatures and intense rainfall, water stored within the system evaporates creating a cooling effect reducing surface temperatures," affirmed Tarmac in a media statement.
Ultra-porous concrete has been around for about 50 years, but until recently it has mostly been used beneath paving to assist water drainage.
If the water pooling atop the concrete freezes the whole system would be ruined, thus a warm climate is absolutely non-negotiable.