Last edited 24 Nov 2020

Graphene-reinforced concrete

In April 2018, scientists at Exeter University announced they had developed a new, pioneering technique for incorporating graphene into traditional concrete production. The result of such a technique is the production of a stronger and more water-resistant type of concrete which they believe could revolutionise construction.

Graphene is the world’s thinnest material and even though it’s only one-atom thick, it is 200 times stronger than steel and has superior strength, conductivity, stiffness and transparency.

The technique uses nanoengineering technology to introduce the graphene into the concrete mix; suspending atomically thin graphene in water-yielding concrete. The resultant composite material is twice as strong, four times more water resistant, and with a reduced carbon footprint in comparison with other conventional concretes.

The researchers believe that this technique has the potential to be scaled up at relatively low cost to meet modern production requirements and could pave the way for other nanomaterials to be used to enhance the performance of concrete.

The researchers at Exeter University have published a paper ‘Ultrahigh Performance nanoengineered Graphene-Concrete Composites for Multifunctional Applications’ in the journal of Advanced Functional Materials. Ref

Professor Monica Craciun, co-author, said:

“This new composite material is an absolute game-changer. 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 .

“Yet perhaps more importantly, by including graphene we can reduce the amount of cement required to make concrete by around 50% – leading to a significant reduction of 446kg/tonne of the carbon emissions.”

Dimitar Dimov, lead author and also from the University, said:

“This ground-breaking research is important as it can be applied to large-scale manufacturing and construction. The industry has to be modernised by incorporating not only off-site manufacturing, but innovative new materials as well. Finding greener ways to build is a crucial step forward in reducing carbon emissions around the world and so help protect our environment as much as possible. It is the first step, but a crucial step in the right direction to make a more sustainable construction industry for the future.”

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