Can underground infrastructure improvements for transportation be cost-effective and environmentally friendly?

Polymer technology supports urban expansion while minimizing environmental impact

As cities continue to grow and expand, there is an increased need for investment in transportation infrastructure. Transportation infrastructure is not as simple as building new roads and subways, it requires a lot of planning and engineering. Part of this planning includes strategies for managing the by-products of construction. Construction inevitably creates waste, and traditional methods for removing waste can be costly and have a negative impact on the environment.
But there is a solution! Polymer technology can help manage waste and save time and money,reduce the risk of groundwater contamination and minimize the volume of material going to landfills. It is an ideal option for large construction and tunnelling projects, including improvements to transportation infrastructure.

For example, tunnelling for new transit systems, such as LRT or subway lines, produces a by-product called slurry. Slurry is a mix of water, soil, mud, and other sub-soil debris elements. The traditional approach to handling slurry in large construction projects is to vacuum and transport it to landfills or liquid transfer stations via vacuum trucks. This method is time consuming, labour intensive, inefficient, expensive, and has a significant carbon footprint. Increasing public awareness of the environmental impact of these large-scale projects is also driving a need for new solutions. Polymer technology can help municipalities reduce costs and minimize the volume of waste headed for landfills.


horizontal directional drilling and microtunneling


How does polymer technology work?

MetaFLO’s polymer technology works by applying a reagent to liquid waste. This reagent bonds with the liquid in the slurry turning it into stackable brick-like solids. The total volume of the bricks is only marginally more than the original slurry. Changing liquid waste into solid form offers significant benefits to the environment; it helps prevent groundwater contamination and reduces the number of people and trucks required to remove waste. Fewer trucks and fewer people mean a lower carbon footprint. MetaFLO’s polymer technology can also enable waste to be disposed of in clean fill sites designed for recyclable and reusable materials, provided the source material is not contaminated. These factors collectively improve efficiency and reduce costs on urban work sites.


microtunneling micro tunneling


Megacities and mega construction projects need innovative solutions for waste management

Large tunnelling projects around the world are connecting communities through upgraded transportation infrastructure. In Toronto, a new LRT expansion is underway to connect Scarborough to midtown Toronto. This new LRT line includes 25 stations, requires significant underground tunnelling, and is generating substantial volumes of slurry. Project managers have opted to use our MetaFLO polymer technology to treat the slurry, helping prevent pollution and groundwater contamination and reducing the number of trips required for disposal.
Another project using MetaFLO is the NorthConnex initiative in Australia; connecting Sydney’s suburbs with a new motorway to reduce commuter traffic. NorthConnex project managers used our technology while excavating tunnels for the project. These tunnels, the deepest ever dug in the country (90 metres deep and 9 kilometres long), generated a substantial volume of slurry. Polymer technology efficiently reduced the risk of groundwater contamination and helped crews efficiently remove the waste. Polymer technology now means municipalities and waste management service providers have the opportunity to reduce operating costs and meet new and stricter environmental regulations.




Tunnelling Towards the Future

Municipal governments today are increasingly aware of the need for innovative solutions to address environmental concerns around transportation infrastructure projects in a cost effective manner. We are leading the industry in technology and service by providing municipalities with tunnel operations experts who can create an effective solution for liquid waste management while minimizing the impact on the environment. Our polymer technology expertise means that improvements in infrastructure need not come at the expense of the environment. If you’re working on a construction project and need a solution for waste management, reach out to us. Our proprietary technology can be used across many applications and projects. We are always happy to help and answer questions!