New concrete: 400 times more flexible than ordinary concrete
Scientists at Melbourne's swinburne university of technology have invented a process that makes it easy to make flexible concrete, which could lead to it becoming a mainstream building material thanks to improvements in the way it is made.
The main raw material for this new flexible concrete is fly ash, a byproduct of burning coal to generate electricity, which completely replaces traditional cement.In a sense, making concrete from coal ash is an ancient method.Roman engineers mixed volcanic ash and quicklime to create their signature building materials, which is one reason why many of the buildings built in ancient Rome remain intact.The team at swinburne university managed to mix synthetic fibres into concrete and create a process for curing it without heating the mixture.
This kind of concrete has two advantages.First, it is more environmentally friendly to produce.Because limestone does not need to be heated to make cement, 36 per cent less energy is needed to make it than traditional flexible concrete.The process also reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 76 percent.It is worth noting that the materials it USES, good or bad, are widely used in other countries and regions of the world.
At the same time, the polymer fibres inside the concrete allow it to withstand multiple hair-like fractures without breaking into individual pieces.The researchers who developed the material say the new concrete is 400 times more flexible than ordinary concrete, making it ideal for use in earthquake-prone areas.
Flexible concrete is not a new concept.It was developed in 1990 by Victor Li, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the university of Michigan.However, the cost of producing the material is so high that it cannot be used in large areas.As of last year, Dr Lee's bendable concrete was still four times more expensive than conventional concrete.A new manufacturing process developed at swinburne has made manufacturing so much cheaper that we could soon see bendable concrete in widespread use around the world.
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