Hyderabad-based startup Optimus Manufacturers wants to make rubberized roads a reality in India. It launched its product crumb rubber on Wednesday at T-Hub in Hyderabad, which it intends to sell to road contractors, the Telangana government to use in laying rubberized roads.
Apart from roads, Optimus says that crumb rubber can also be used various areas like in children’s playground, sports surfaces, geotechnical/asphalt applications, adhesives and sealants, shock absorption and safety products.
It has set up a 10,000 square feet manufacturing facility in Patancheru in Hyderabad where it will process scrap tyres into crumb rubber.
Scrap tyres will be imported from countries like Israel. The excess waste like steel will be extracted from the scrap tyres, which will then be washed and ground to produce fine powder, granules and rubber blocks. These can be used in different sections across industries.
“Rubberized roads is one use case where fine crumb powder is diluted and mixed with bitumen. We intend to make it a mixture of 20% rubber and 80% bitumen. We will manufacture the product for contractors as third-party vendors and are also giving a 10-year guarantee that these roads will not develop bumps, cracks and holes,” says Aloysious Dsouza, founder and MD of Optimus.
While the company is only in the process of starting operations, it is talking to several contractors in and around Hyderabad and is even speaking with the Telangana government to test out rubberized roads.
It will begin manufacturing crumb rubber next month.
T-Hub startup Nucleus Tech is the technology partner for Optimus and is working with the startup to make its operations seamless.
“We are taking care of software solutions for them, reports that will need to be generated and all other technical support. Additionally, since we have some contacts in the Telangana government, we will be their operational partners. Meaning, we will be helping them with permissions required from the government and in dealing with all legalities involved,” says B Yashwanth Reddy, managing director of Nucleus Tech.
Rubberised roads are used extensively in the highway paving industry in the USA, particularly in the states of Arizona, California and Texas.
The first attempt to modify bituminous binders by adding rubber was made in 1898 by Gauedmberg, who patented a process for manufacturing rubber bitumen. France was then given credit for installing the first road with a rubberised bituminous surfacing material.
In India, is has so far only been used in Kerala for the Ernakulam - Muvattupuzha road in Kerala. This was done to help out over 1 milllion natural rubber growers across Kerala who were struggling.
In fact, the United Planters Association of Southern India (Upasi) also has urged the Centre to consider rubber bituminised roads for the future construction of national highways and has made this suggestion to road transport & highways minister Nitin Gadkari.
However, there are been many reservations over rubberized roads. Some of the challenges are melting of roads under hot temperatures in India.
But according to Aloysious, this is why the company will use only 20% in the mixture as against European countries that use a 50-50% mixture of bitumen and rubber.
Aloysious hopes to grow the company and eventually become a necessity and the go-to player when it comes to rubberized roads in India.
This article has been produced with inputs from T-Hub as a part of a partner program.