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‘Textile Concrete’ Offers Support Alternative

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

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Researchers at the Technical University of Dresden are investigating a new form of reinforced concrete they claim is lighter, more durable and more versatile than conventional materials.

The team, led by civil engineer Manfred Curbach, has created what it calls “textile concrete,” which makes use of embedded carbon fibers to give it strength and stability instead of traditional steel reinforcement, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle shares an overview of the university's "textile concrete" material, including how it is made and the testing process.

In comparing its performance against steel-reinforced concrete, Curbach and his team see promising results, which they say will give engineers and designers an alternative tool when envisioning anything from bridges and residential structures to furniture and more.

Woven Mesh

Because carbon fiber is too soft on its own to be added directly to the concrete, Curbach explains that they need to be woven together and receive a coating to further stiffen them.

About 50,000 individual fibers are reportedly pulled together to form a yarn-like strand that is then woven into mesh on an automated loom before the layer of coating is added. The fibers are further adjusted in the weave, Curbach says, to give them “maximum tensility.”

The mesh is cut to size and placed between two millimeter-thin sheets of a special concrete mixture before the finished sheet is left to harden for 24 hours.

Robust Material, Slim Forms

Lab tests on a textile concrete girder have shown that even after cracks appear in the surface, the carbon material inside is able to withstand force to a level that makes it six times more robust than conventional steel-reinforced concrete, according to the team.

The team even built a test version of a bridge, which they loaded to the breaking point, Curbach says, so that authorities could see what the material could bear before granting approval for construction of the first textile concrete bridge.

Based on the knowledge gained from their research, the team sees great potential for carbon concrete. Whereas traditional concrete is “clunky and heavy,” Curbach says, the use of carbon creates slim elements instead.

Moreover, “Textile concrete costs less in terms of materials and energy used, so making it produces fewer emissions,” he adds.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Coating Materials; Colleges and Universities; concrete; Europe; North America; Rebar; Research and development; Tensile strength

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