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Samuel G. Bonasso ’62 is Terminating Potholes Around the World

Samuel G. Bonasso, ’62 civil engineer, won the 2016 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Grand Challenge Infrastructure Innovation Contest for Most Feasible Green Engineering Idea with his invention, confined aggregate concrete, a tire reuse technology. On June 20, 2017, he presented the Mechanical Concrete® Pothole Terminator application of his invention to an ASCE mock-Shark Tank panel and a national audience.

Bonasso, owner of five U.S. patents and founder of three businesses, is not only a career civil engineer, but also a public servant, serving as West Virginia Secretary of Transportation in Governor Cecil H. Underwood’s administration and as deputy administrator and subsequently acting administrator of the Research and Special Programs Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation during the presidency of George W. Bush.

Mechanical Concrete® functions like a construction operating system. Pothole Terminator is an application of confined aggregate concrete, and a permanent solution for potholes. Removing both sidewalls from a waste auto tire creates an industrial-strength, low-cost, thin-walled, tire-derived geosynthetic-cylinder. Mechanical Concrete® confines stone aggregates in a thin-walled cylinder, dramatically improving the structural performance of the crushed stone and aggregate materials.

“Most road surface failures are caused by water penetrating below the surface into the compacted base-stone binder, causing it to lose its strength,” says Bonasso. “This causes potholes, rutting and road edge collapse, which create safety problems for divers. Mechanical Concrete® Pothole Terminator physically confines and holds the base stone together. This cylindrical confinement process consistently creates a virtually indestructible, water-permeable base needed without depending on adhesives, binders or friction. It is fast, uses small equipment and instantly supports loads and resists erosion.”

Bonasso discovered Mechanical Concrete®, which also is a solution for the poor accessibility of rural areas in developing countries. “A substantial proportion of their road network, typically more than 75%, consists of gravel and earth roads,” explains Bonasso. “Mechanical Concrete® not only has the unique potential to speedily advance the construction of a reliable, sustainable, maintainable, unpaved, farm-to-market road system, but also [to] provide local employment for these underdeveloped regions.

“A primary economic challenge in Asia, Africa, Latin America and other developing regions around the world is the inability to construct basic transportation and civil infrastructure without modern construction equipment, materials, means and methods,” continues Bonasso. “We are currently working with people in S. Africa and Argentina to utilize our technology. Mechanical Concrete® offers something so simple almost anyone can build a green, high-quality road.”

Mechanical Concrete was discovered while seeking a better, civil engineering reuse for waste tires. Worldwide, societies generate nearly 1.4 billion waste automotive tires per year (300 million from the U.S.). This makes Mechanical Concrete an economically viable, sustainable technology and a model for how to effectively reuse a major societal waste.

To learn more about Bonasso’s Mechanical Concrete®, please click here.

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