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11th, December, 2014
Imagine a super-strong concrete which could repel water, offer increased durability and could be maintenance free for up to 120 years. It might sound like something from science fiction or theoretical research, but engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have recently made this theory a reality.
Adorned with the catchy title of a Superhydrophobic Engineered Cementitious Composite (or the more manageable ‘SECC’ acronym), this new ‘super concrete’ boasts 200 times the durability of traditional concrete and as much as four times the average lifespan.
As a result of extensive research and revolutionary engineering, the team were left with a material that was strong, water-repellent and could even be integrated with electronic systems to result in a ‘smart’ surface – perfect for everything from car parks to motorways.
Earlier this year, they laid a slab of the SECC ‘Advanced Concrete’ in the university’ car park and integrated electrodes connected to computer systems – it will collect data on strength, physical resistance and moisture content in a real world setting to back up their lab-based work.
Konstantin Sobolev, an associate profession within the university’s lab where the SECC material was developed, said: “Our architecture allows the material to withstand four times the compression with 200 times the ductility of traditional concrete”.
Their initial 2013 report noted how important the new material’s flexibility is – looking at the fact that conventional reinforced concrete is actually quite brittle in comparison and, when damaged, the cracks allow water in to eventually affect the steel structure and lead to failure.
This new technology is a long way off being introduced, but the developments and information off the back of this research is really exciting news for any kind of infrastructure – small or large.
While initially more expensive, the cost saving benefits could mean a lower long-term cost. It’s perfect for everything from industrial car parks and home driveways to industrial service yards and busy motorways. You can read the full article, with further information, here on the Txchnologist online magazine.