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DOTs Testing Sealant for Concrete Cracking

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

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Transportation departments in Louisiana, Texas and Minnesota will be testing out a new sealant, created by Louisiana State University mechanical engineering professor Guoqiang Li, that can reportedly help prevent concrete from cracking.

“This problem of cracking in pavement has existed for more than 100 years,” Li said. “No one can control it, so you must have a good sealant. We propose a sealant that behaves thermally opposite to common physics.”

Concrete Sealant

According to LSU, Li received an award in 2009 from the NCHRP Highway IDEA program for his project, "A Shape Memory Polymer-Based Self-Healing Sealant for Expansion Joint,” an endeavor that used a one-way shape memory polymer slab as a sealant. The slab was compressed horizontally and stretched vertically before being installed. This method accounted for seasonal heating and cooling that contributes to the widening and narrowing of expansion joints in concrete pavement.

Louisiana State University

Transportation departments in Louisiana, Texas and Minnesota will be testing out a new sealant, created by Louisiana State University mechanical engineering professor Guoqiang Li, that can reportedly help prevent concrete from cracking.

In 2012, Li proposed an asphalt-based liquid sealant, which would factor in one-way shape memory polymers with pre-deformations. Based on this model, as concrete shrinks and expands, the sealant adjusts accordingly.

Li noted that the sealants currently used by public workers are largely composed of asphalt, rubber or rubber-modified asphalt.

“The two-way shape memory polymer has a weak bond with concrete,” Li said. “We add asphalt to the sealant to not only reduce the cost, but it will also help the sealant bond with the concrete. Asphalt in the sealant can also protect the sealant from environmental attack. Ultraviolet irradiation from the sun will gradually degrade the polymer sealant, but the aging will be slowed down if asphalt is mixed with it.”

The sealant has passed the lab testing phase, and is now moving on to practical application by three state DOTs. First, Texas Transportation Institute needs to certify the material. Next, the sealant is used on a test road at an accelerated loading facility in Louisiana. There, a modified truck will drive on the treated road for three months straight, the equivalent of 20 years of use. Finally, the sealant will be tested in Minnesota’s frigid temperatures.

Li hopes that Louisiana and Minnesota will finish their approval process by December 2019. He hopes to see the shape memory polymer used in concrete design in the future.

   

Tagged categories: Colleges and Universities; concrete; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Research and development; Sealant

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