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Lower-cost engineered composites for transportation infrastructure applications

By Chemical Engineering |

Engineered cementitious composites (ECCs) are concrete-like materials with exceptional ductility (up to 500 times) and flexural strengths (2–3 times) greater than conventional concrete. The flexibility and strength of ECCs could benefit transportation infrastructure (for example, the ductility of ECCs could reduce or eliminate the need to cut joints into roadway repair overlays, which reduces repair times and cost). However, current ECCs require difficult-to-obtain materials (such as microsilica sand) and are expensive to manufacture (due to high fiber content). “The only way to make ECCs applicable in the real world is to figure out how to make them from cost-effective and readily available materials,” explains Gabriel Arce, engineering research assistant professor at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, La.; www.lsu.edu). Arce leads a group of researchers that is evaluating different ingredients in ECC formulations to modify its properties, increase its cost-effectiveness or reduce its carbon footprint. The LSU team recently substituted sugarcane bagasse ash (SCBA) for the microsilica sand and found that strength and ductility of the ECC could be retained or even enhanced. “The degree of enhancement depends on the amount…
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