Believe it or not, concrete is getting harder.
A team of scientists has designed a new ultra-resistant type of concrete material that can be repaired, according to recent press release.
The new concrete has 30% greater durability than conventional concrete of the highest class, which means less cracking, and when they appear, it can even be repaired.
From passive to “active” protection with concrete
“These properties are possible mainly due to the design of the mixture and the use of components such as crystalline additives, aluminum nanofibers and cellulose nanocrystals, which are able to improve the material’s ability to recover,” said researcher Pedro Serna of the Institute of Science and Technology. (ICITECH), which is part of the Universitat Politècnica de València, in a press release. Another key feature that allows the new material to outperform its competitors is the far lower frequency of conventional and emergency maintenance work required. The material can last much longer than the typical limits, which are approximately 50 years. This is especially useful for infrastructures that withstand aggressive environmental loads, such as constructions near the sea or geothermal power plants.
“In this project, we demonstrate how the durability of cementitious materials becomes a feature that can be designed through the synergy between the composition of the material and the structural concept,” said Martha Roig Flores, another researcher at ICITECH, in a press release. “We have designed and tested new cement mixtures with a capacity for structural self-repair in the cracking phase, which is the usual condition faced by a reinforced concrete structure.” This represents a change in the design philosophy for durability, from the idea of a material as a substance for passive protection against external disasters, to one of the “active” protections.
Real-time performance data for new concrete
While validating the material, it was used in the construction of six large-scale pilot structures, which are currently being evaluated against the background of real structural operations. Two of them are in the Valencian Community, two more in Italy and one each in Malta and Ireland. These physical structures are continuously monitored with UPV technology using an extensive network of sensors controlled by an IDM Institute team. This allows engineers to test the performance of the new ultra-strong concrete as the days turn into weeks and years.
As a test system, it has stand-alone sensors arranged in an electronic language that offers real-time and current information on the durability of the structure. “These data allow experts in this field to check the good condition of structures or, as the case may be, to take the necessary measures to prevent deterioration of damage by using the most appropriate, economical and less affected method of protection or repair. of the operation of the structure, ”said Juan Soto, another researcher at the IDM Institute. This new material, combined with real-time data from its unique performance profile, represents a significant window into the future of construction, architecture and could lead to future improvements in the industry as the world begins to to deal with environmental taxes of materials production.