Demonstration 

MUD and Metamucil

Psyllium seed husk, the main ingredient in Metamucil, can help keep you regular.

The Missoula Urban Demonstration Project, or MUD, is using psyllium in a way that's quite irregular—as a binding agent in a permeable pavement that the nonprofit hopes will become a widely used alternative to oil-based asphalt.

This week, MUD laid 13 cubic yards of the psyllium-infused paving product around its new location on Wyoming Street, next to Home ReSource. The group used a $96,000 Community Development Block Grant to relocate its tool library and truck share programs from the Northside to the more central location.

"We want this to be a real example of a sustainable product," says MUD Board of Directors Vice President Anne Little, "and do it the right way so people can see it, the city can see it and consider using it in other places—because it's permeable, it's durable, it looks nice and it functions just the way we need it to function." She adds that the pavement will meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

The psyllium husk-based material came from Grass Roots Agronomics, of Emmett, Idaho, which primarily sells quartz silica sand to golf courses around the West. The company's owner, Robert Parish, says using psyllium to "stabilize," or bind, pavement aggregate is especially popular in Europe, and increasingly so in the U.S.

"In my lifetime, being out West," Parish says, "I've been on a lot of stabilized pathways I didn't even know were stabilized." He specifically mentions walkways in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and at the Sacajawea Center in Salmon, Idaho.

MUD worked on the project with Bob Giordano, founder of the Missoula Institute for Sustainable Transportation and Free Cycles, who installed two small test plots over the summer.

"Instead of creating toxic fumes and oily runoff, as asphalt does, this material comes from a clean, renewable source," Giordano said in a statement. "All indications are that it holds up well to the wear and tear of a Montana winter."

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