Researchers at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne have created a new kind of concrete that is both eco-friendly and better at withstanding earthquakes. The bendable concrete is also made out of waste material.
The most widely used material
“Concrete is the most widely used construction material in the world,” said ARC DECRA Fellow at Swinburne's Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Digital Construction, Dr. Behzad Nematollahi.
“In fact, it is the second-most consumed material by human beings after water. Its quality has a massive effect on the resilience of our infrastructures such as buildings, bridges, and tunnels.”
The product is a major improvement on conventional concrete that is not only very rigid but also very polluting. Traditional concrete shatters when being stretched or bent and has a high carbon footprint due to the calcination of limestone to produce its key ingredient, cement.
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“Production of this novel concrete requires about 36% less energy and emits up to 76% less carbon dioxide as compared to conventional bendable concrete made of cement,” said Dr. Nematollahi.
The novel material is made of industrial waste products such as fly ash, a by-product of coal-fired power stations. The researchers have also included short polymeric fibers in order to ensure that the concrete can bend but not break.
This makes it ideal for use in areas where natural disasters such as earthquakes are common. “Building in areas vulnerable to that sort of natural disaster is one of the main uses that we can see for this material,” Dr. Nematollahi added.
“Our laboratory test results showed that this novel concrete is about 400-times more bendable than normal concrete, yet has similar strength.”
This is not only great news for disaster-prone areas, but it also great for the environment.
This study was published in Construction and Building Materials.