If you think concrete is boring, then you’ve never watched it soak up 4,000 liters of water in 60 seconds to a Tracy Anderson-approved soundtrack. Let’s just say that Shia LaBeouf better watch his back — this parking lot is vying for his job as the world’s best motivational speaker.
Topmix Permeable is a new type of highly porous, fast-drying concrete developed by the U.K.-based cement company Tarmac. According to Smithsonian Magazine, this veritable Tony Robbins of construction material can absorb up to 1,000 liters of water per square meter per minute. And so can you! Er — sorry — I’m still amped up from that video.
If you’re not impressed by the simple fact of a parking lot absorbing 4,000 — four thousand!!!! — liters of water in 60 seconds, you must be quite jaded indeed, but this actually serves a valuable purpose. A permeable concrete could help cities both conserve water and avoid flooding — something that a Joaquin-ravaged South Carolina could really use right about now. Here’s how it works, from Smithsonian:
Typically, road paving material is made of a mix of large and fine crushed stone held together by a binder. With Topmix Permeable, the fine crushed stone or sand is left out. This makes the resulting material porous enough to accept large amounts of water. A layer of Topmix Permeable concrete is installed on top of an aggregate sub-base of crushed stone, which generally sits on top of the soil. Rainwater drains through the top surface, collects in the aggregate layer, and is slowly released into the ground.
As Smithsonian points out, porous asphalt is already a thing, but it’s not strong enough to handle heavy traffic, lets pollutants run into the water system, and needs regular maintenance in order to keep from clogging. Topmix Permeable is stronger, although still not ideal for heavy traffic areas, and can filter out contaminants like motor oil. It also contains more air space than your average porous asphalt — 35 percent, compared to 20 percent.
Unfortunately, Topmix Permeable is not yet available in the U.S. But, by god, that video is — and if I watch it enough, I might just have to cover the whole world in permeable concrete! Wait, that’s not the point?