TX University, DOT Examining Sustainable Concrete

TUESDAY, MAY 9, 2023

A $10 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation was recently awarded to a University of Texas at Arlington civil engineering researcher who is looking to develop a greener and more energy-efficient concrete.

The grant, awarded to Associate Director for the Center for Advanced Construction Materials Maria Konsta-Gdoutos, targets to create concrete with 30% lower manufacturing, operational and maintenance costs, a 50% extended lifetime and negative net greenhouse gas emissions in transportation infrastructure.

“We will improve the durability, extend the life and make for cleaner transportation infrastructure,” Konsta-Gdoutos said. “This research will spearhead a holistic program to revitalize the nation’s transportation infrastructure, improving the current ‘fair’ category of U.S. bridges and pavements to ‘good.’

“This center will drive the development of standard guidelines for the formulation and deployment of the next generation of resilient and durable construction materials.”

Robert Hampshire, DOT’s deputy assistant secretary for research and technology, said the projects conducted at UT Arlington could transform the concrete industry.

“The winners in this research could be anyone who drives a vehicle,” Hampshire said. “There are 3,233 miles of the 45,000-mile Interstate Highway System in Texas, according to the Texas DOT. And with more than 680,000 total road miles in Texas, if the center can find a way to make roads less costly, more durable and greener, everyone wins.”

The university reports that the center utilizes an advanced atomic microscopy system, which provides necessary data to design greener concrete and engineer its nanostructure and properties. UTA is reportedly the only university to have this tool.

Konsta-Gdoutos said researchers will use the machine to see the nanostructure of concrete through topographical imaging at sub-2 nanometer scale, then identify the chemical phases and composition of materials at the atomic and nanoscale.

Additionally, the center’s researchers will be able to use an X-ray nanoscale computed tomography system for sub-250 nanometer 3D imaging and non-destructive scanning and reconstruction of the concrete’s internal nano- and microstructure.

Konsta-Gdoutos adds that this analysis will allow the center to create advanced structural retrofitting and repair solutions for existing infrastructure. Researchers are reportedly planning to develop carbon-neutral materials, as well as renewable energy-related technologies, for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in transportation infrastructure to alleviate urban heat islands.

The DOT funding was provided to create the Tier 1 University Transportation Center (UTC) for Durable and Resilient Transportation Infrastructure (DuRe-Transp).

According to UTA, the center also comprises of a consortium of researchers from Howard University, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Oregon State University, Purdue University and the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.

Recent UTA Research

Last month, UTA associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering Mohammed Najafi received a $300,000 grant to evaluate a trenchless process for renewing sanitary sewer pipes in Soapstone Valley Park in Washington, D.C. The project will use a trenchless cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) method that relines the old sewer pipe with new plastic material, which is cured in place with hot water.

Additionally, the team will investigate how far pollutants travel. UTA reports that the park is currently closed so the project can be completed.

The one-year competitive grant was awarded from the Water Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization advancing the science of all water to meet the evolving needs of its subscribers and the water sector.

“The Soapstone Project includes the rehabilitation of defective sanitary sewer pipes, the rehabilitation of defective sewer manholes, protection of other sewer infrastructure assets, and repair of municipal separate storm sewer system outfall using a non-VOC/non-styrene-based resin and hot water cured trenchless Cured-in-Place-Pipe (CIPP) method,” wrote the foundation.

“This study is proposed to provide adequate sampling, testing and analysis to obtain the results necessary to make comprehensive and definitive conclusions, thereby filling the gaps and building on the work of previous studies.”

As part of its Capital Improvement Program, DC Water will perform sewer rehabilitation projects to address aging and defective sewer pipes. Benefits of the project reportedly include the rectification of an aging sewer system, improved structural integrity of the pipes while maintaining adequate hydraulic capacity, reduction of stream and groundwater infiltration, and mitigation for potential sanitary sewer overflows.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Carbon footprint; Colleges and Universities; concrete; Department of Transportation (DOT); EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Emissions; Energy efficiency; Environmental Controls; Funding; Grants; Green Infrastructure; Greenhouse gas; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Research; Research and development; Roads/Highways; Sustainability; Transportation; Z-Continents

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