Researchers at the University of Newcastle in the UK have created a new kind of concrete glue that can patch up the cracks in concrete structures, restoring buildings that have been damaged by seismic events or deteriorated over time.
Defeating soul-deadening gridlock, monster potholes and dangerous road ice
By Adam M. BrightPosted 01.28.2010 at 1:16 pm 18 Comments
Chicago road crews are scrambling to fill 67,000 potholes a month. Communities in Pennsylvania rely on 100-year-old water pipes made of wood. Squirrels still cause widespread blackouts. The country's 600,000 bridges, four million miles of roads, and 30,000 wastewater plants desperately need attention. The solution isn't patches, it's an overhaul. Soon roads and power lines will fix themselves, and we'll mine energy from sewage. America's 21st-century tune-up won't happen overnight, but we could start reaping the benefits (faster broadband! cleaner water!) within the next few years.
Most parking lots may resemble a man-made wasteland even with cars sitting on top of them. But now they can serve a dual purpose by helping filter out pollutants in rainwater that might reach underground water sources.
The polymer fibers in flexible concrete help it resist 500 times as much stress as conventional concrete.
Courtesy Nicole Casal Moore/University of Michigan;
Researchers have known for decades that concrete fixes itself as cement particles near a small crack mix with air and water to form calcium carbonate. But some fractures are too big to heal on their own. Now engineers at the University of Michigan have mixed a new concrete formula with reinforcing glue-like fibers that hold it together under pressure, allowing only hair-width cracks that can mend after a rainy day. Available in a few years, the remixed concrete will cost more than the standard stuff, but less maintenance could make it cheaper in the long run.
The use of concrete dates back to ancient Rome, and the recipe hasn't changed much since then. Neither have some of concrete's drawbacks. In particular, the slow deformation known as "concrete creep" has afflicted structures from the Pantheon to the Pentagon. But MIT scientists believe they have solved the mystery of concrete creep, and thus opened the door to structures that will last tens of thousands of years.