SINTEF engineers have begun testing a new-age concrete designed to withstand extreme conditions, self repair, and last for 200 years.
It is coordinating an international development program called LORCENIS which stands for ‘Long-lasting Reinforced Concrete for Eergy Infrastructure under Severe operating conditions.’
A primary goal of the project is to reduce CO2 emissions by extending the operational lifetime of the concrete, thereby reducing emissions from concrete production.
Christian Simon, SINTEF’s Research Manager for nano- and hybrid materials, says that his team is aiming to develop a concrete containing additive nanomaterials that change and enhance its properties.
“SINTEF and many of the project partners have nanomaterials that can help to make the concrete resistant to water penetration, enable it to identify incipient cracks, and assist in repairing itself. And this is definitely not sci-fi or someone’s crazy dream.”
“We weren’t exactly starting from scratch”, Simon told engineering magazine Teknisk Ukeblad (TU). “We have a lot of know-how and are building on our experience from laboratory tests. We have a ‘proof of concept'[ ready and now we have to test it in an upscaled version under real conditions.”
The researchers have already started making test pieces that will be subjected to accelerated tests to simulate stresses corresponding to lifetimes of between 100 and 200 years.
“We have started by making concrete demonstrators that will be tested for use in deserts where night-time temperatures can be many degrees below freezing, and daytime temperatures well in excess of 40 degrees,” says Simon. “We shall also conduct tests involving salt water, those simulating Arctic conditions, and four or five other sets of conditions.”
According to the researchers, the next-gen concrete comes with offers self-diagnostic capabilities.
It employs a network of carbon nanotubes and nanofibers with enhanced electrical conductivity to obtain precise information about the current condition of the concrete.
The concrete uses a self-repair system based on nanomaterials and hydrogels to deal with cracks. It also contains self-curing materials that prevent shrinkage.
Image and content: The LORCENIS project/SINTEF