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Bendable Concrete Shows Promise for LA Infrastructure

Monday, January 14, 2019

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Following on from research conducted in the 1990s regarding Engineered Cementitious Composites, researchers based out of Louisiana State University are working to bring the material to mass use. Testing also indicates that ECC could help improve infrastructure for the state.

 In “Evaluation of the Performance and Cost-Effectiveness of Engineered Cementitious Composites Produced From Region 6 Local Materials,” Gabriel Arce, a senior research associate in LSU’s Bert S. Turner Department of Construction Management and principal investigator on the LSU ECC project, investigated several different “readily available” ingredients used in different samples of the ECC.

ECC Research

“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 Arce. “The cost of our material is approximately 2.5 times that of regular concrete; typical ECC cost can be more than four times that of regular concrete.

“However, when you factor in the possibility of building pavements at half the thickness and the enhanced construction productivity due to the ability to construct pavements without joints, the cost of pavements with our ECC material should be comparable to that of traditional concrete.”

Louisiana State University

Following on from research conducted in the 1990s Engineered Cementitious Composites, researchers based out of Louisiana State University are working to bring the material to mass use. Testing also indicates that ECC could help improve infrastructure for the state.

The research team tested 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 ingredients were chosen, ECC mixes were examined for cracking performance, compressive strength, tensile strength, deformation capacity, flexural performance and workability.

After further testing and refinement, the team chose the following ingredients:

  • A type of PVA fiber that does not have the oil coating usually used in PVA fibers for ECC, with the fiber also reducing cost;
  • Sand from the Mississippi River, which is fine enough to be implanted in ECC materials, and can be used as a replacement for microsilica sand; and
  • Fly ash, which replaced up to 75 percent of the cement in the ECC.

“We were able to tailor the cementitious mix and the interface between the fibers and the cementitious matrix in such a way that allowed for a ductile behavior of the concrete,” Arce said.

Originally, Arce submitted the project proposal to the Transportation Consortium of South-Central States (Trans-SET), a collaborative partnership between nine major institutions and two community colleges, led by LSU. Trans-SET seeks to address the deterioration of infrastructure through innovation and research, and provided funding for the project.

Moving forward, the research team will further develop the project at the Louisiana Transportation Research Center Pavement Research Facility, where they will build a a 210-foot-long section of ECC pavement, using the LTRC PRF’s 65-foot-long Accelerated Transportation Loading System “to simulate truck loading for pavement testing,” according to LSU.


Tagged categories: Building materials; concrete; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Research and development

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