Super Silly Putty Could Solve Your City’s Pothole Problem

By Josh Tyler | 9 years ago

Potholes are an annoyance in nearly every city. Fixing them is expensive, time consuming, and more often than not just doesn’t get done. At least it used to be. A few students at Case Western Reserve University seem to have solved the problem.

They’ve solved it using a type of non-Newtonian fluid. Non-Newtonian fluids are anything that oozes like a liquid, but becomes stiff when pressure is applied to it. Silly putty is an easy to understand example. It’s pliable and maleable, but punch it and it seems much harder. For those of you who haven’t played with silly putty in awhile, just think of the stuff your trophy wife’s plastic surgeon put in her breast implants.

Science Now says the pothole solution involves a silicone based non-Newtonian fluid which the students have encased in a Kevlar bag. Drop one of their bags in a pothole and it oozes to fill in the shape of the pit, but when cars drive over it, the liquid inside the bag stiffens to smooth out the ride for their tires. They’ve already tested their special patches on high-traffic areas in Cleveland and found them entirely effective even over extended periods.

Unlike traditional solutions which require hot tar and lots of road work, these patches could be simply kept in the back of police cars to be dropped in a hole whenever an officer spots one. No fuss, no muss. They’re relatively inexpensive too, costing about the same as traditional methods but without all the labor involved. They’re even reusable. Once a team finally does come by to patch the hole with traditional materials, the patch can be removed and used somewhere else.

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