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‘Thirsty’ Concrete Seems to Drink Water

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

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A type of concrete that “drinks” water on its surface is being marketed to areas where flash flooding and puddles are a problem.

The Topmix Permeable concrete by Tarmac can absorb 880 gallons of water in 60 seconds, according to a recent article in the Daily Mail.

The daily newspaper said the concrete solution works by having a permeable layer of concrete on the surface that allows the water to seep through large pebbles and into a loose base of rubble.

Tarmac's Topmix Permeable concrete product appears to drink water as its layers help drain water that's on the surface through large pebbles underneath.

A video of the material at work shows the permeable concrete absorbing 880 gallons (4,000 liters) of water in about 60 seconds. The Daily Mail notes that most of the water disappears as soon as it hits the ground.

Flood, Heat Repellant

Tarmac said on its website that the product not only could help flash flooding problems, it also might help to reduce the temperature of concrete surfaces in hot weather.

“Permeable concrete allows surface water to freely drain through the wearing surface to the underlying ground with the ability to act as a reservoir during periods of high downfall,” the company said in its Permeable Concrete Solutions Guide.


The company lists possible uses as sports pitches, sub-bases, cycle paths, parking lots, driveways and sidewalks.

“During these periods this characteristic can aid in delaying the discharge of surface water into water courses or drainage systems reducing the risk of overwhelming systems and causing flash flooding. During periods of rising temperatures and intense rainfall, water stored within the system evaporates creating a cooling effect reducing surface temperatures,” the company said in its guide.


The company lists possible uses as sports pitches, sub-bases, cycle paths, parking lots, driveways and sidewalks.

The Daily Mail said the concept of permeable concrete has been around for about 60 years as an under paving. But as the paper notes, Tarmac has stated it now can be used as a top surface and is strong enough to withstand vehicle use.


Tagged categories: Bridge/parking deck waterproofing; Concrete; Environmental Controls; Roads/Highways; Video

Comment from Michael Durbin, (9/29/2015, 8:34 AM)

What happens when it absorbs that amount of water and then the temperature drops below freezing for a few days/weeks? What mechanism allow it to expand or does the ground provide enough insulation to prevent freezing?

Comment from Jim Johnson, (9/29/2015, 2:14 PM)

Incoming water could easily carry salts with it. When the water evaporated it the salts would then be concentrated, but they would also hold moisture, so a very corrosive environment could easily result.

Comment from john schultz, (9/30/2015, 8:10 AM)

What a wonderful rock sponge for mildew farming.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/8/2015, 1:34 PM)

The article should probably note the 880 gallon figure appears to be Imperial Gallons (officially discontinued) and not US Gallons (officially still in use) Permeable concrete and permeable asphalt hot mix are both well understood. It's actually a greater benefit on roads than parking lots. Here's a presentation from almost 10 years ago: - test sections studied showed a huge reduction in wet weather wrecks and fatalities.

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