Bendable concrete developed at Swinburne University

A new type of concrete made out of waste materials that can bend
under load has been developed and patented by researchers at Swinburne.

“Concrete is the most widely used construction material in the world,” Dr Behzad Nematollahi said.

“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
infrastructure such as buildings, bridges and tunnels.”

The new
material, developed and patented by Nematollahi and Professor Jay
Sanjayan from Swinburne’s Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Digital
Construction, is able to bend when force is applied to it, whereas
traditional concrete is prone to shatter when being stretched or bent.

“Building
in areas vulnerable to that sort of natural disaster is one of the main
uses that we can see for this material,” Nematollahi said.

Buildings
made from the new material will be much more likely to remain intact
during earthquakes, as well as hurricanes, projectile impacts, and
blasts.

“Our laboratory test results showed that this novel
concrete is about 400-times more bendable than normal concrete yet has
similar strength.”

Furthermore, the inclusion of short polymeric
fibres in this novel concrete allows it to sustain multiple hair-sized
cracks when put under tension or bending and not break into pieces.

Traditional
concrete also has a huge carbon footprint due to calcination of
limestone to produce its key ingredient, cement. By using industrial
waste products such as fly ash, a by-product of coal-fired power
stations, the production of this material requires less energy than
conventional concrete, making the product more sustainable.

“Production
of this novel concrete requires about 36 per cent less energy and emits
up to 76 per cent less carbon dioxide as compared to conventional
bendable concrete made of cement,” Nematollahi said.

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