ITB Alumni Create Porous Paving Block to Prevent Flooding

By Adi Permana

Editor Vera Citra Utami

BANDUNG, Floods often occur in Indonesia. One of the causes of this natural hazard is the reduction of water catchment areas due to the use of water-resistant materials in construction processes. These materials prevent rainwater from being absorbed into soil, resulting in runoff and flooding.

In an effort to solve this problem, a 2013 ITB Physics Engineering alumna, Anisa Azizah, together with her team and under the guidance of Prof. Bambang Sunendar, Ph.D., succeeded in creating porous paving blocks that can absorb water. The paving blocks developed can be penetrated by water as much as 1000 mm/ day and retain high strength through the help of chemicals. These paving blocks have a strength which ranges from K-200 to K-350, or equivalent to class B or A paving blocks.

Seeing the potential benefits of these products, Anisa and her team successfully commercialized the initially exclusive laboratory product through a startup called Tech Prom Lab with the product called PoreBlok. This product is available in 10 locations in Bandung, Sumedang, and Tangerang. In addition, it can be used for housing, dwellings, and school yards. In the process of manufacturing its products, Tech Prom Lab also collaborates with local paving block manufacturers through transfer of technology to several factories in Tasikmalaya and Tangerang.

In regard to the funding process, Tech Prom Lab has successfully received a grant from a Japanese company, Leave a Nest, and the local government of Ota-City in Tokyo, which then collaborated with a local company, Seki Ironworks, in the design and manufacture of a gravel solter for the PoreBlock production process. This gravel solter machine is semi-automatic and can filter aggregates into 4 sizes, which can be used in the manufacture of PoreBlock and other building material products.

The machine created from this collaboration has been successfully developed and was exhibited at the 9th Hyper Interdisciplinary Conference 2020 in Tokyo, Japan, which thereafter was sent to Tasikmalaya, Indonesia, on September 11, 2020. "This aggregate filtering machine is expected to improve the quality and quantity of PoreBlock production because so far the filtering has been done manually, so it takes a long time to get the required sizes," added Anisa.

The Tech Prom Lab has had many achievements since its inception. Among them are being the Grand Winner of GSI 2018, Grand Winner of Tech Planter Indonesia 2019, Grand Winner of Tech Planter World Communication 2020, and Grand Winner of Tech Planter Southeast Asia. It has also participated in the UNDP X 500 Startups Impact Aim Project.

Despite their many achievements, Anisa and her team are certainly not free of problems and challenges in developing the Tech Prom Lab. In addition to common problems such as team development, operation management, funding, and the team’s different backgrounds, Anisa said that lack of experience was also an obstacle in developing this product. “The founders of the Tech Prom Lab are fresh graduates from ITB, both with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and do not have experience or connections in the construction industry, so it is harder for us to enter this ecosystem,” said Anisa.

Even with the many challenges and obstacles, Anisa and her comrades have succeeded in developing innovative products that are useful and not harmful to the environment. When met by Reporter ITB, Anisa testified the importance of collaboration from the idea stage to the implementation. “We believe that our goal to help solve the flooding problem cannot be done alone. We need assistance and collaboration from various parties so that our good efforts can be impactful, “She stated.

Reporter: Deo Fernando
Translator: Rizvika Rahmita Salim

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