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Concrete

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

Heavyweight transparency – Light Transmitting Concrete

January 26, 2006 Thanks to a lot of unimaginative work over the last half century, concrete has a bad name, yet at the same time, some of the world’s most beautiful and innovative works of contemporary architecture derive their character from the material. Interestingly, though concrete might seem a low tech material, it is evolving. We’ve recently written about bendable concrete and now there’s Light Transmitting Concrete (known as LiTraCon), which is created by mixing concrete and glass fibres optical strands to create a solid yet translucent block suitable for floors, pavements and load-bearing walls. The inventor of LiTraCon, Hungarian architect Aron Losonczi, gave a public lecture at the United States National Building Museum earlier this week to present his revolutionary product that brings translucence to a traditionally opaque material. The lecture complements a current exhibition at the Museum entitled Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete, which features a five-foot tall LiTraCon wall.  Read More

Bendable concrete

May 7, 2005 A new type of fibre-reinforced bendable concrete will be used for the first time in Michigan this summer. Developed by University of Michigan scientists, the new concrete looks like regular concrete, but is 500 times more resistant to cracking and 40 percent lighter in weight. Tiny fibres that comprise about 2 percent of the mixture's volume partly account for its performance. Also, the materials in the concrete itself are designed for maximum flexibility. Because of its long life, the Engineered Cement Composites (ECC) are expected to cost less in the long run, as well.  Read More

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