An Australian research team developed an environmentally-friendly bendable concrete from waste products that could save buildings from damages during earthquakes.
The amazing invention was created by the scientists through waste products such as fly ash – a by-product of coal-fired power stations.
The bendable concrete is said to be suitable for earthquake zones in countries such as Japan and New Zealand where the brittle nature of conventional concrete leads to catastrophic structural damage.
A video shows the new creation – the ‘engineered geopolymer composite’ – yielding impressively under a weight that snaps conventional concrete in two, Dailymail UK reported.
Dr Behzad Nematollahi at the Faculty of Science, Engineering & Technology at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne said, ‘Our laboratory test results showed that this novel concrete is about 400-times more bendable than normal concrete, yet has similar strength.’
‘Building in areas vulnerable to that sort of natural disaster is one of the main uses that we can see for this material. Its quality has a massive effect on the resilience of our infrastructure such as buildings, bridges and tunnels.’
Traditional concrete is not only prone to shattering when stretched or bent, but produces a huge carbon footprint.
This is because the production of cement involves heating limestone to extremely high temperatures, which releases carbon dioxide.
Using industrial waste products makes this process – which has been patented by the team of developers – much more sustainable.
The team used low-calcium fly ash supplied from Gladstone power station in Queensland, Australia and two types of slags – a glass-like by-product formed in smelting and welding.
Production of this bendy concrete requires about 36 per cent less energy and emits up to 76 per cent less carbon dioxide compared to other flexible concrete methods.
The inclusion of short polymeric fibres in the mix – a type of man-made fibre that used synthetic chemicals – creates multiple ‘hair-sized cracks’ when put under tension to prevent it from breaking.
Cracks in conventional concrete can make it less resilient against earthquakes or tornadoes, as well as man-made forces, such as bomb blasts in terrorist attacks.
This new creation is able to bend when force is applied to it, meaning buildings made from it will be more likely to remain intact during earthquakes, hurricanes, blasts or projectile impacts.
This is vital because of the reliance on concrete in new infrastructure projects worldwide.
‘Concrete is the most widely used construction material in the world – in fact, it is the second-most consumed material by human beings after water,’ Dr Nematollahi said.
The team detail their sustainable concrete in the journal Construction and Building Materials.