THE KEY TO STRONGER CONCRETE: CARROTS
Researchers at England's Lancaster University have discovered a simple, cost-effective way to make concrete much stronger: carrots. The discovery that adding nanoparticles from root vegetables to a traditional concrete mix ‘significantly improves’ its strength could result in significant savings, reduced carbon emissions and lower energy consumption for construction projects across the world.
Research showed the increase in strength to be so great, that ‘Carrotcrete’ outperformed all other concretes tested, including those made using graphene which has long been touted as a wonder material for its strengthening properties.
To carry out the tests, researchers engineered the vegetable-enhanced concrete by adding ‘nanoplatelets’ from carrots to an ordinary concrete mix made from water, aggregate and Portland cement.
The researchers found that the vegetable fibres boosted the volume of calcium silicate hydrate in the composite, which resulted in a notable increase in strength.
Most encouragingly, the addition of the carrot fibres allowed for a reduction of 40 kg of Portland cement for every cubic metre of concrete made. On sizeable construction projects, this could deliver significant cost savings, reduced carbon emissions and lower energy consumption.
Engineering professor Mohamed Saafi, who is lead researcher on the project stated:
"The (carrot) composites are not only superior to current cement products in terms of mechanical and microstructure properties but also use smaller amounts of cement. This significantly reduces both the energy consumption and CO2 emissions associated with cement manufacturing."
Lancaster University has secured £195,000 from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme to continue the research.
From Carrots to Apples
The strengthening of concrete with vegetable fibres could have a significant impact on future construction if early research indications are accurate, but what about strengthening existing structures? Simple. Call CCL.
Our strengthening solutions are used on structures throughout the world where change of use, the need for additional capacity, design code changes, site defects, fire damage, environmental factors and even age, have required remedial action.
Below are some examples of projects that the CCL team has undertaken recently:
Catherine House, Portsmouth
The owner of this 15-storey student accommodation block and car parking facility was adding extra capacity to the structure, which involved creating additional living space within the area of the southern-most lift core by adding a new floor slab at each level.
Once the new slabs were in place fourteen new window openings, each measuring 750 x 1800 mm, were created in the south-facing wall to let natural light flood into the new living areas. CCL carried out the structural strengthening around the openings using CFRP to accommodate additional builder’s work in the complex floor plates.
Image courtesy of McAleer & Rush
Grosvenor Crescent, London
Grosvenor Crescent is a 19th century grade ll listed building in Belgravia, London. As well as designing and installing five floors of post-tensioned slabs behind the retained façade, CCL also carried out strengthening using CFRP.
Apple Store, Liverpool (Liverpool One)
When the masters of product design needed a store remodelling, CCL was called in. Before moving in, Apple wanted to double the height of a retail unit in Liverpool One, which meant removing part of the floor above and cutting post-tensioned beams.
CCL analysed the new loadings, located and installed resin anchors to the PT tendons, cut the tendons and removed part of the beams. CFRP was then applied to the beams to accommodate the new load.
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