From nanoengineered specialty products to green and recycled production processes, some of the best improvements in concrete technology have occurred over the last decade.
””Technological advancement has contributed to some of the best improvements in concrete over the last 10 years. Concrete remains the most used building material in the world, and recent advancements promise to see that trend continue. New materials, techniques and uses are all making concrete stand out as a premium building material.
Best Improvements in Concrete Manufacture and Curing
Some of the biggest and best improvements in concrete technology have come in the manufacturing process.
- Elasticized form liners – Already used to cast concrete with design and texture, form liners now use elastic polyurethane which allows the liner to release from the form and the concrete without damage to either and be reused 50–100 times. This technique is ideal for large decorative concrete installations and increases cost effectiveness.
- Internal curing – Adoption of an ASTM standard for adding pre-moistened lightweight aggregates to concrete has helped internal curing techniques gain popularity. The lightweight aggregate replaces some of the regular aggregate and releases water as needed from within the structure providing more even hydration of the concrete, which promotes internal curing. This reduces shrinkage, warping, and cracking.
- Nanotechnology – This practice alters the concrete mixture on the nanoparticle level to affect its strength, durability, permeability, sustainability, and other properties. It has allowed the development of ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) mixtures which have had a big impact on architectural and decorative concrete. It has also developed unique specialty products.
Some of the most amazing and best improvements in concrete specialty products are the result of developments in nanoengineering.
- Self-repairing concrete – Microencapsulated self-healing polymers, catalyst and carbon nanofibers are now added to the concrete mixture. When cracks begin to occur in the finished product, the microcapsule breaks, combining the healing agent and catalyst to fill the crack. This is incredibly useful in bridge columns and other infrastructure applications.
- Pollution-reducing concrete – Developed in Italy, this uses a photo-catalytic reaction to break down pollutants into non-harmful forms. It appears that even limited use in urban areas would considerably reduce pollution.
- Translucent concrete – Adding optical fibers or translucent fabric fibers to the concrete mixture allows light, shadows and color to be visible through the concrete. Common uses include illuminated pavement, light fixtures, and signs.
Reduced Environmental Impact
Many concrete improvements have been driven by the need to conform to “green” building standards and certifications. In fact, concrete was already a good choice for green applications because of its longevity and high thermal mass.
- Increased use of recycled material – The newest concrete mixtures can increase use of recycled material up to 85%. Examples include recycled concrete aggregate, asphalt pavement, and concrete wash water.
- Decreased energy use in production – Portland cement is an element in concrete mixtures that requires the most energy to produce. Mixtures designed with replacements for part of the cement can be produced with less energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
- Reduced construction waste – The use of both precast designs and forms created out of metals and plastics that can easily be reused and recycled reduce the amount of construction waste that ends up in landfills.
These are only a few of the best improvements in concrete technology that have impacted the industry in the last decade. The future will undoubtedly hold many more. Contact Razorback Concrete to learn more about improvements in concrete technology or obtain a free custom quote for your next project.