Doha’s New Blue Road
With the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022, Qatar is taking several measures to ensure that fans and players feel comfortable. One of these measures is to try to reduce the temperature by cooling down roads. While other cities like Tokyo, Mecca, and Los Angeles have implemented similar plans, this experimental project is first of its kind in Qatar by the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) in collaboration with Japan’s Oriental Company.
Where roads, pavements, and other structures have helped create an urban heat island, this plan might just be able to provide residents with some relief. Close to Souq Waqif, 200 meters of Abdullah bin Jassim Street have been covered in a 1 mm thick cryogenic blue coating of “heat-reflecting pigment”. Officially launched on August 19, 2019, it is anticipated that the project will reduce asphalt temperatures by 15°C-20°C. Additionally, the bicycle & pedestrian path by Katara Cultural Village has been covered in the same coating to check its feasibility.
Dark-coloured asphalt absorbs 80%-95% of sunlight, leading to high temperatures. The paving material is made of four layers of primary materials like concrete and three layers of materials that reduce the amount of heat absorbed. The blue coating which comes on top will reflect UV rays & absorb lesser heat, thus helping reduce the temperature of the asphalt and the surrounding area. It is predicted that this will also help slow down smog creation, encourage pedestrians to use the road, reduce heat-related illnesses, prolong road life, and enhance traffic safety by ensuring better visibility of vehicles.
The strip around Souq Waqif will be observed with sensors and evaluated over 18 months, post which the Public Works Authority will decide whether the project can be implemented throughout the country.