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Grad student may have discovered economically feasable smart concrete

Most people think of driveways and sidewalks when concrete is mentioned. Concrete is also used as a structural building material in many large buildings around the country. The problem with concrete as a building material is that as it develops cracks, the material becomes weaker.

Researchers are currently investigating ways to make smart materials that can heal themselves from cracks and other minor imperfections as a way to prolong the life of the material and increase its strength. A grad student named Michelle Pelletier from the University of Rhode island has made a discovery that may one day lead to smart materials that are cost effective to produce and easy to use.

Pelletier is a master's degree candidate and has developed a method of embedding microencapsulated sodium silicate healing agents directly into concrete. The idea is that the tiny microcapsules, which hold the sodium silicate agent that reacts with calcium hydroxide naturally in concrete, will rupture when cracks form and release the repairing agent.

When the sodium silicate inside the microcapsules reacts with the calcium hydroxide in the concrete a chemical reaction causes a gel-like material to form that can fill cracks and pores in the area of the crack and hardens in about a week.

"Smart materials usually have an environmental trigger that causes the healing to occur," explained Pelletier, who is collaborating on the project with URI Chemical Engineering Professor Arijit Bose. "What's special about our material is that it can have a localized and targeted release of the healing agent only in the areas that really need it."

Tests of the self-healing concrete have shown that when stressed to near breaking the concrete with the microencapsulated sodium silicate is able to regain up to 26% of its original strength. Standard concrete when stressed to similar levels only regains 10% of its strength. Improvements in the

Another potential benefit of the new self-healing concrete being studied is if by immediately filling cracks in the concrete, water can be prevented from reaching the steel reinforcement bars that are used to add strength to concrete. Water getting to the steel reinforcement bars causes the bars to rust leading to reduced strength.



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RE: thoughts...
By guffwd13 on 5/26/2010 2:55:05 PM , Rating: 2
@ inperfectdarkness

1. architectural concrete usually takes 30 days to fully cure

2. concrete naturally has imperfection. this is saying, those imperfections would recapture 26% of its potential perfect composition OR reacquire 26% of lost strength due to damage / weathering. concrete's main strength is in the rebar. in can still maintain a significant portion of its strength until the rebar is exposed. once the steel becomes exposed and starts to rust, the system is compromised. if this material can help prevent steel from becoming exposed by repairing cracks as they start - this would HUGELY benefit the building industry.

3. if you think those things won't gain enough critical mass by the end of this decade - especially considering recently passed and pending legislation, you're an even bigger idiot than the guy who couldn't think of any applications for oled rolling displays.


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