A 200-square-foot slab of seemingly ordinary concrete sits just outside the Peter Kiewit Institute as snowflakes begin parachuting toward Omaha on a frigid afternoon in late December.
The snow accumulates on the grass surrounding the slab and initially clings to the concrete, too. But as the minutes pass and the snow begins melting from only its surface, the slab reveals its secret: Like razors, stoves and guitars before it, this concrete has gone electric.
Its designer, UNL professor of civil engineering Chris Tuan, has added a pinch of steel shavings and a dash of carbon particles to a recipe that has literally been set in concrete for centuries. Though the newest ingredients constitute just 20 percent of Tuan’s otherwise standard concrete mixture, they conduct enough electricity to melt ice and snow in the worst winter storms while remaining safe to the touch.
Tuan’s research team is demonstrating the concrete’s de-icing performance to the Federal Aviation Administration during a testing phase that runs through March 2016. If the FAA is satisfied with the results, Tuan said the administration will consider scaling up the tests by integrating the technology into the tarmac of a major U.S. airport.
“To my surprise, they don’t want to use it for the runways,” Tuan said. “What they need is the tarmac around the gated areas cleared, because they have so many carts to unload — luggage service, food service, trash service, fuel service — that all need to get into those areas.
“They said that if we can heat that kind of tarmac, then there would be (far fewer) weather-related delays. We’re very optimistic.”
A unique bridge that resides about 15 miles south of Lincoln has given Tuan reason to feel confident. In 2002, Tuan and the Nebraska Department of Roads made the 150-foot Roca Spur Bridge the world’s first to incorporate conductive concrete. Inlaid with 52 conductive slabs that have successfully de-iced its surface for more than a decade, the bridge exemplifies the sort of targeted site that Tuan envisions for the technology.
“Bridges always freeze up first, because they’re exposed to the elements on top and bottom,” Tuan said. “It’s not cost-effective to build entire roadways using conductive concrete, but you can use it at certain locations where you always get ice or have potholes.”
Potholes often originate from the liberal use of salt or de-icing chemicals that can corrode concrete and contaminate groundwater over time, Tuan said, making the conductive concrete an appealing alternative with lower operating and maintenance costs. The power required to thermally de-ice the Roca Spur Bridge during a three-day storm typically costs about $250 — several times less than a truckload of chemicals, he said.
Tuan said the conductive concrete could also prove feasible for high-traffic intersections, exit ramps, driveways and sidewalks. Yet the technology offers another, very different application that doesn’t even require electric current.
Catching the next wave
By replacing the limestone and sand typically used in concrete with a mineral called magnetite, Tuan has shown that the mixture can also shield against electromagnetic waves. The electromagnetic spectrum includes the radiofrequency waves transmitted and received by cellphones, which Tuan said could make the concrete mixture useful to those concerned about becoming targets of industrial espionage.
Using the magnetite-embedded concrete, Tuan and his colleagues have built a small structure in their laboratory that demonstrates the material’s shielding capabilities.
“We invite parties that are interested in the technology to go in there and try to use their cellphones,” said Tuan, who has patented his design through NUtech Ventures. “And they always receive a no-service message.”
While Tuan’s collaborations have him dreaming big about the future of conductive concrete, he’s currently enjoying its benefits much closer to home.
“I have a patio in my backyard that is made of conductive concrete,” he said with a laugh. “So I’m practicing what I preach.”
Read more: De-icing concrete could improve roadway safety, guard against corporate espionage
The Latest on: Conductive concrete
[google_news title=”” keyword=”conductive concrete” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Conductive concrete
- Thermal Conductive Gel Market to Reach High Globally, by 2030| Research Reports Worldon March 23, 2023 at 12:09 am
The Thermal Conductive Gel Market (2023-2030) Updated Latest Research Report analyzes the market's various types ...
- Metamaterial concrete lays foundation for smart, self-powered infrastructureon March 22, 2023 at 10:14 pm
What do the Hoover Dam, the Sydney Opera House, the Great Wall of China and the Pantheon have in common? They’re all examples of incredible, ambitious concrete construction.
- Cracking the concrete codeon March 22, 2023 at 7:56 pm
New research introduces metamaterial concrete for the development of smart civil infrastructure systems. Researchers present a new concept for lightweight and mechanically-tunable concrete systems ...
- Researchers create self-sensing metamaterial concrete that produce poweron March 22, 2023 at 8:52 am
A metamaterial is any material engineered to have a property that is elusive to naturally occurring materials. The research introduces the use of metamaterials in the creation of concrete, providing ...
- Developing Metamaterial Concrete for Smart Civil Infrastructure Systemson March 22, 2023 at 7:13 am
Concrete is the most commonly used building material and dates back to the Roman Empire. The University of Pittsburgh engineers are redesigning it for the 21st century.
- New Meta-Material For Smart Infrastructure!on March 22, 2023 at 12:05 am
Researchers have developed a new type of concrete material that can generate electricity and even power roadside sensors. Massive use of concrete in our ...
- Developing self-sensing metamaterial concrete for smart infrastructure systemson March 21, 2023 at 12:04 pm
Concrete is the most used material in the construction industry and dates to the Roman Empire. Engineers at the University of Pittsburgh are now reimagining its design for the 21st century.
- The Quest for Injectable Brain Implants Has Begunon March 21, 2023 at 4:21 am
The hard electrodes inserted into the brain to treat Parkinson’s and paralysis damage the organ’s soft tissue. A new invention could change that.
- Concrete: The Latest Architecture and Newson February 24, 2023 at 2:00 am
The precast and prefabricated elements made of concrete (such as slabs, pillars, beams and walls) are part of the constructive process known as modular construction. A construction methodology ...
- conductive concreteon February 20, 2023 at 4:00 pm
He’s created his own special formula for conductive concrete. Which means you can turn the concrete into a resistive heat load. And this isn’t just a university research project that is going ...
via Bing News