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Roman Concrete Makes Its Way to 'Shark Tank'

Friday, March 9, 2018

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A University of Utah grad whose work involves the kind of concrete used in ancient Rome, known for its thousands of years of endurance, will bring a concrete product to the TV entrepreneurship show Shark Tank this season.

Chris Carlson, who graduated with a degree in material science in 2004, became interested in Roman concrete and worked to develop the formula he’ll be displaying on Shark Tank, an ABC television reality show that allows entrepreneurs to present their product or company to investors.

Concrete Concoction

Roman concrete was originally a mix of volcanic ash and quicklime; the building material has withstood the power of the sea for two millennia and counting. According to The Washington Post, the concrete is stronger now than when it was first mixed.

Marie Jackson, an expert in Roman concrete from the University of Utah, along with colleagues, looked at the structure of a concrete sample at a microscopic level. These samples, which had been extracted from seawalls and piers as part of the Roman Maritime Concrete Study project, revealed that the concrete behaves much like volcanic deposits in submarine environments, according to Jackson.

In a study published in June 2017 by American Mineralogist, it was discovered that the building material is filled with tiny growing crystals. The crystals are almost like small armor plates, and prevent the concrete from fracturing.

Carlson noted that he had worked with Jackson and other researchers, but he wound up going in his own direction with his take on Roman concrete.

Carlson told news station KSL that his creation was “exactly like Portland cement, only half the weight, half the density and twice the activity.” He went on to add that while he did not see his product replacing the more traditional Portland cement on a wide scale anytime soon, even adding a small percentage of his product to mixtures can reportedly “give it exactly what it’s missing.”

The next step is to attract investors; hence the entrepreneur deciding to go on Shark Tank. Carlson is pitching for the show's 10th season, which is slated to air next fall.

Carlson unveiled the product at World of Concrete 2018, earlier this year.


Tagged categories: concrete; Research and development

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