Caen engineering students create reflective ecological sidewalk curbs

The sun makes the edge of a freshly redone sidewalk sparkle, not far from the University Hospital of Caen. Small bits of colored glass reflect the light and bring a smile to Aude Bourgeois, one of the three students behind this equipment, along with her classmates Thomas Latini and Cléo Guis.

The reflective edging of ESITC Caen students. Glass is mixed with concrete from the design stage. Ultimately, it could be non-recyclable glass, to enhance it.

A study project initiated two years ago, at the Caen Higher School of Construction Works Engineers (ESITC). “The theme proposed by the school was: chameleon concretethat is to say, to do something that adapts to the environment”.

For these young people aware that “the construction industry is the first source of waste in France” and beyond, the reflection leads to these curbs or any other road development. “Used glass replaces the aggregates that make up the concrete, explains Aude. We include glass right from the design of the concrete. It’s not just a superficial addition.” In this way, the glass preserves the stability of the whole and endows the border with reflective properties, useful at night, to allow motorists to see these road developments earlier.

“Objective: move towards industrialization”

The novelty of this achievement lies in the glass used. “We have not found anything similar, which relies on glass waste”, continues the student. The concept must be refined, to move towards an even more eco-responsible fiber. If, in this experimental version, the glass comes from classic household waste, in the long term, the project leaders would like to incorporate “non-recoverable glass, such as mirrors for example, into their border recipe. It would probably be more reflective, moreover,” says Aude. This choice could create outlets for non-recyclable glass. Another avenue would consist of using recycled aggregates for the concrete. “A company crushes old concrete electric poles, notes Aude. It may be an option. “The students were looking for a site to experiment with their creation, developed in the ESITC laboratories. They found him not far from there, at the end of February, around a speed bump. Delighted to have convinced his students to pursue their research project, the deputy director of the school Mathieu Dufeu announces the color for the future: “the objective, now, is to move on to industrialization”.

A wish shared by Aude Bourgeois, who, like her classmates in the fifth year of study, is carrying out this project in parallel with her first professional opportunities. “These first borders are experimental. We will no longer be able to go through the ESITC for the next ones. However, companies contact us to place an order”. Young engineers bond with operators to produce their borders, which will still sparkle after school.

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