Research: Graphene Could Aid Concrete
In recent years, nanomaterial graphene has been touted for properties that can help make coatings and other products that lubricate and resist corrosion, but a new study by U.K. engineers shows it could also be a component of durable, more sustainable concrete.
The University of Exeter’s Monica Craciun and Dimitar Dimov, along with seven others, published a paper Monday (April 23) in Advanced Functional Materials, explaining how incorporating graphene into concrete can lead to a product that’s twice as strong as traditional concrete, and four times as water-resistant.
In addition, the stronger graphene-laced concrete could translate to a 50 percent reduction in the volume of materials needed to make concrete for a given structure—meaning a huge reduction in the greenhouse gases associated with making cement and concrete.
“This unprecedented range of functionalities and properties uncovered are an important step in encouraging a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly construction industry worldwide,” Craciun said.
The material the engineers created for the study was made using a water-stabilized dispersion of graphene; graphene is an atom-thin, super-strong carbon material that exhibits an anticorrosive and lubricant properties. In recent years, scientists have made strides toward making graphene in a standardized manner without material flaws; the material has been brought to market for coatings by Applied Graphene Materials, which last year announced a partnership with U.K.-based HMG Paints.
Because of the low water-permeability of the graphene concrete, the authors note that the material could be useful for building in flood-prone areas. The material’s compressive strength increased by 146 percent in comparison with standard concrete, the paper reports, and its flexural strength was 79.5 percent greater.
The Exeter researchers hope that not only will the graphene concrete development lead directly to a stronger, greener building material, but the research will spawn more work using water-stabilized graphene dispersions.