Louisiana State University (LSU) researchers have successfully developed Engineered Cementitious Composites (ECC) or bendable concrete.
According to the researchers, their material has proven to be far superior to traditional concrete and could greatly improve the transportation infrastructure in the southeast U.S. region.
“Compared to typical concrete, our cost-effective ECC material has about 300 times more deformation capacity, more than two times the flexural strength, and a higher compressive strength,” said Gabriel Arce, principal investigator on the LSU ECC project.
“ECC has the potential to provide Louisiana with more durable and reliable concrete pavements that can mitigate the necessity of recurring repair, saving time and money.”
The new and improved ECC has been in the making since Arce’s PhD days at LSU.
His project, ‘Evaluation of the Performance and Cost-Effectiveness of Engineered Cementitious Composites (ECC) Produced From Region 6 Local Materials’ was submitted to the Transportation Consortium of South-Central States, or Trans-SET.
Trans-SET is a collaborative partnership between nine major institutions and two community colleges, led by LSU.
It was established to address the accelerated deterioration of transportation infrastructure through advanced technologies.
Trans-SET funded Arce’s project and began testing on four different types of sand; two types of recycled crumb rubber materials; five different types of fiber; and three different types of fly ash.
Once the team settled on the raw ingredients, several ECC mixes were evaluated for compressive strength, tensile strength, deformation capacity, flexural performance, workability, and cracking performance.
These were refined based on testing outcomes and evaluated further. In the end, Arce and his team settled on the following ingredients:
- A type of PVA fiber readily available in the U.S. market. The researchers were able to reduce the fiber content by 25 percent while still producing a ductile material.
- Locally available fine river sand from the Mississippi River. The sand is fine enough to be implantable in ECC materials and is a replacement for the expensive and hard-to-obtain microsilica sand normally used.
- Locally available fly ash, which replaced up to 75 percent of the cement utilized in the ECC mix.
In the coming months, Arce and the team will further develop their work with a project at the Louisiana Transportation Research Center Pavement Research Facility (LTRC PRF).
They will build a 210-foot-long section of ECC pavement at the facility and use the LTRC PRF’s 65-foot-long Accelerated Transportation Loading System (ATLas 30) to simulate truck loading for pavement testing.
The ATLaS 30 equipment is capable of compressing many years of road wear into a few months of testing to obtain performance data on the ECC material.
Image and content: Louisiana State University