"Thirsty" Concrete Could Solve Problems WIth Flash Floods

September 28th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

If you've ever been caught in a flash flood, you know how scary the experience can be. Flash floods kill an average of 127 people each year in the U.S., according to the National Weather Service. That's more than lightening, tornados, or hurricanes. When rainfall causes nearby creeks and rivers to flood, the excess water can turn into a raging stream of water—and it can be deadly. Earlier this year, flash floods in Oklahoma and Texas made headlines. In early June, the Weather Channel reported that flooding and tornados in the area killed 31.

But one company says it has a solution to flash floods: super absorbent concrete.

Topmix Permeable, an absorbent, porous concrete mix created by Tarmac, can filter up to 880 gallons of water per minute through its permeable top layer, Mental Floss reported. In the video above, you can see the magic in action. A concrete truck dumps hundreds of gallons of water on the Topmix and it is rapidly absorbed.

Water flows from the top layer down into a reservoir system, which can hold excess water during times of extreme rainfall.

Tarmac cautions that its product is not necessarily suitable for all environments. If rainwater that sifts through the top layer freezes, then it can expand and cause damage. So in places where the temperature falls below freezing, Topmix Permeable is not advised. It is also not the best option for roads that experience heavy traffic; instead, it should be used on the shoulders, in parking lots, and on driveways.

"The concept of permeable concrete has been around for nearly 60 years and it is often used under paving to help aid drainage, for example," the Daily Mail reported. "However, Tarmac claims advances in the way it can be compacted has now allowed it to be used as a top surface, capable of withstanding use by cars."