Concrete that could increase road, bridge life to 120 years

08 May 2014

A new concrete developed at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee could greatly increase the lifespan of heavily travelled roads and bridges.

The formula, known as Superhydrophobic Engineered Cementitious Composite (SECC), was developed by UWM civil engineering graduate student Scott Muzenski and created in a lab with the help of associate professor Konstantin Sobolev. This new concrete actually repels water, solving one of its biggest weaknesses.

As water pools on concrete, it seeps below the surface where it freezes and expands, splitting the material and causing cracking.

But, as Science Daily reports, this new formula features additives that create a “spiky surface” at the molecular level when the concrete hardens. This causes water to bead up and roll off.

SECC is also a more flexible concrete, allowing it to bend more than normal concrete without breaking. Strong polyvinyl alcohol fibres are mixed into and bond with the concrete. Whenever the start of a crack begins, these fibres keep it from spreading.

While concrete roads have an average lifespan of 30 years and bridges a span of 40-45 years, the new concrete should survive maintenance free for more than 120 years.
By Wayne Grayson
See more at:*#sthash.m5Kb2U8p.dpuf

Read the latest issue

Latest Issue