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Concrete

Looks like a job for BacillaFilla (Image: Shaire Productions via Flickr)

Earlier this year we took a look at the development of self-healing concrete that repairs its own cracks using a built-in healing agent. While this kind of technology holds promise for construction in the future, it’s not so useful for the vast amounts of existing concrete in need of replacement or repair. UK researchers have come up with a solution to this problem that uses bacteria to produce a special "glue" to knit together cracks in existing concrete structures.  Read More

Bricks made for the Seville/Strathclyde study

In a collaborative study on sustainable building materials, researchers from Spain’s University of Seville and Glasgow’s University of Strathclyde have created bricks that contain sheep’s wool and a polymer derived from seaweed. Clay-based soils were provided by Scottish brick manufacturers, while the wool came from Scotland's textile industry, which produces more of the stuff than it can use. The polymer was an alginate, which occurs naturally in the cell walls of seaweed. Mixed together, the three substances resulted in bricks that were reportedly 37 percent stronger than regular unfired bricks.  Read More

One of the Air Clean paving slabs in a laboratory setting

Last month, we told you about an experiment with air-purifying concrete that was recently conducted in the Netherlands. Researchers resurfaced 1,000 square meters of a busy road with concrete paving stones that contained titanium dioxide (TiO2), a photocatalytic material that removes automobile-produced nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the air and converts them into nitrate with the aid of sunlight. When the air was tested up to one-and-a-half meters above those stones, NOx levels were found to be 25 to 45 percent lower than above regular concrete on the same road. Now, a similar study is underway in Germany, and is already showing promising results.  Read More

Michelle Pelletier with her self-healing concrete

Self-healing “smart building materials” have the potential to reduce structure repair costs, lower cement-production carbon emissions and even save lives. One barrier that has kept these materials from being commercialized, however, is their potentially labor-intensive and thus expensive production process. Recently, an engineering student from the University of Rhode Island (URI) announced that she has developed a self-healing concrete that would be inexpensive to produce.  Read More

The sensor-transponder system Fraunhofer researchers say delivers an early warning of dang...

According to the Neil Young album title, rust never sleeps. In construction, rust damage can be insidious – especially in infrastructure like concrete bridges where rust can have fatal consequences if the steel in bridges fails. But detecting rust before it’s too late has been an ongoing challenge for engineers and scientists. Experts at the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS have developed an early-warning system for rust. By installing sensor-transponders into in the concrete to measure the extent of corrosion, engineers are being given a vital heads-up.  Read More

Novacem Chairman Stuart Evans and Chief Scientist Nikolaos Vlasopoulous, with samples of t...

Concrete seems pretty inoffensive. It just looks like mud, and appears to do nothing except sit there and harden. The fact is, though, concrete is the world's third-largest source of man-made carbon dioxide. Its production process accounts for at least 5% of the CO2 our species pumps into the atmosphere annually. Apparently, however, it doesn't have to be that way. Two companies are now using different technologies that not only make concrete carbon-neutral, they actually make it carbon-negative.  Read More

A Cozy Cow mattress being used by a satisfied customer

Cows have it hard. They’re bred to be empty-headed, they have to stand outside in the heat and cold, extraterrestrials occasionally do nasty things to them, and ... well, we won’t talk about what ends up happening to many of them. It’s nice, therefore, to see someone cutting the cows a break. Champagne Edition Inc, based out of Alberta, Canada, manufactures mattresses for the comfort and health of cattle. What’s more, they make the mattresses out of old tires, that might otherwise end up in a landfill.  Read More

'Green' research at Louisiana Tech has resulted in new geopolymer concrete technology, lik...

Concrete is the most prevalent building material on the planet, and though the world would be pretty flat without it (not many tall buildings and structures), it does come at a price – around 5-8 percent of all human-generated atmospheric CO2 comes from the concrete industry. A culprit is Portland cement, the binding agent in concrete. It’s the most widely produced man-made material on earth. Production of Portland cement is currently exceeding 2.6 billion tons per year worldwide and growing at 5 percent annually. To halt these alarming pollution figures, innovative research on geopolymer concrete, along with ways of using a waste byproduct from coal-fired powerplants, is being conducted by Dr Erez Allouche, assistant professor of civil engineering at Louisiana Tech University and associate director of the Trenchless Technology Center.  Read More

Hycrete- combined waterproofing and corrosion inhibition

November 1, 2007 Hycrete Technologies has developed a water based admixture that acts as waterproofing and corrosion protection when added to regular concrete. It does this by sealing the capillaries within the concrete and making the resultant product completely waterproof. The Hycrete is so effective that no external waterproof membranes, coatings or sheeting treatments are required, which is good news for the environment as it is usually these waterproofing methods that render concrete unsuitable for recycling – without them the concrete can be crushed, recycled, and reused.  Read More

Grancrete – could a new concrete solve many of the world’s most pressing problems?

October 20, 2006 The United Nations estimates there are almost a billion poor people in the world, 750 million of whom live in urban areas without adequate shelter and basic services. An ingenious new building technology from scientists at Argonne National Laboratory and Casa Grande LLC could help alleviate and perhaps even solve that major humanitarian problem by providing affordable housing for the world's poorest. A tough new ceramic material that is almost twice as strong as concrete may be the key to providing high-quality, low-cost housing throughout developing nations. The ceramic is called Grancrete, which, when sprayed onto a rudimentary Styrofoam frame, dries to form a lightweight but durable surface. The resulting house is a major upgrade to the fragile structures in which millions of the world's poorest currently live. Using conventional techniques, it takes 20 men two weeks to build a house. A five person crew can construct two grancrete homes in one day. There’s also plenty of commercial upside in developed nations, making low-cost buildings viable for a variety of purposes – we can see inflatable technology marrying with Grancrete construction to evolve an entirely new way of building lavishly complex structures that would be impossible any other way.  Read More

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