Graphene-based greener, stronger concrete developed

It is more than twice as strong and four times more water resistant than existing concretes

April 24, 2018 05:54 pm | Updated 05:54 pm IST

 Image for representational purposes only

Image for representational purposes only

Scientists have developed a new greener, stronger and more durable concrete using the wonder-material graphene, which they say could revolutionise the construction industry. Researchers from the University of Exeter in the UK developed a pioneering new technique that uses nanoengineering technology to incorporate graphene into traditional concrete production.

The new composite material, which is more than twice as strong and four times more water resistant than existing concretes, can be used directly by the construction industry on building sites, researchers said. The graphene-reinforced concentre material also drastically reduced the carbon footprint of conventional concrete production methods, making it more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Water resistant

The new technique, described in the journal Advanced Functional Materials , could pave the way for other nanomaterials to be incorporated into concrete, and so further modernise the construction industry worldwide.

“Our cities face a growing pressure from global challenges on pollution, sustainable urbanisation and resilience to catastrophic natural events, amongst others,” said Monica Craciun from Exeter’s engineering department. “This new composite material is an absolute game-changer in terms of reinforcing traditional concrete to meet these needs. Not only is it stronger and more durable, but it is also more resistant to water, making it uniquely suitable for construction in areas which require maintenance work and are difficult to be accessed.

Eco-friendly concrete

By including graphene, researchers can reduce the amount of materials required to make concrete by around 50 per cent – leading to a significant reduction of 446kg per tonne of the carbon emissions.

“This unprecedented range of functionalities and properties uncovered are an important step in encouraging a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly construction industry worldwide,” said Craciun. Previous work on using nanotechnology has concentrated on modifying existing components of cement, one of the main elements of concrete production.

In the new study, the research team created a new technique that centres on suspending atomically thin graphene in water with high yield and no defects, low cost and compatible with modern, large scale manufacturing requirements.

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