UK and Minova Partner on New Concrete for Damaged Structures

Uploaded by universityofkentucky on 20.07.2012

VO: The Center for Applied Energy Research, at the University of Kentucky, and Minova
partnered on a new concrete product marked by unprecedented speed and strength. The goal,
create a new kind of concrete that could save lives in damaged structures and underground
Rodney Andrews: The project that led to the development of this product was originally
funded through National Institute of Hometown Security based in Somerset, Kentucky. Their
program is directed at solving infrastructure and related issues for Department of Homeland
Tom Robl: NIHS and the Department of Homeland Security, they wanted something to repair
shock-damaged structures. This is a tough assignment. You’re adding weight to the
structure which is already damaged and weakened. So what you’ve done is you’ve created
what’s called a “parasitic load”. Whatever you’re putting on there had better react
quickly and had better form strength quickly.
Bob Jewell: You can think of a supportive structure where the rebar is expose and the
joints between beams and columns.
You don’t have time to go in and clean off a structure, wipe away debris, clean up dust,
this doesn’t make sense. So, you need a material that sticks, adheres to pretty much
anything you spray it to, and still gives you the strength, compressive, flexural strength
and integrity that you’re wanting out of the concrete. And the product from this project
did just that.
Peter Mills: They are cementitious products, which means that you just mix them with water
and they set hard. They harden so quickly that not only are they set in a few minutes,
they are rock hard in a few minutes. We’re talking structural strength in as little as
15 minutes of hardening time, which is unheard of in the world of concrete.
Bob Jewell: What are we trying to achieve? Fast setting strength, but also, we don’t
want it to fail catastrophically. In the case of first responders, you’re entering a building…you
want some integrity beyond its load capacity and the fibers give you that.
What you’re doing is creating a dense network of fibers. So, instead of breaking concrete
and having one main break, fibers allow that crack to break into a multitude of cracks,
so you’re dispersing that energy throughout the concrete.
For a high-strength concrete, you’re looking at maybe 4 to 700 psi in flexural strength
testing while the final product … we were achieving 1200 psi, tripling the capacity
of its flexural strength.
Tom Robl: You can imagine where you would have a shock-damaged structure or a military
type application, but also, for example, in the mining environment, which Minova is, of
course, very intimately associated with the mining environment.
Peter Mills: We manufacture steel and chemical consumables for mining, tunnel and civil engineering
markets. We also make a huge array of different cementitious products, particularly in America,
which are sold to mines and used for making the mines safer and more productive.
Rodney Andrews: The relationship with Minova is a great example of how we partner with
companies to develop new products. Tom Robl and his group have been working with them
for many years. It was a natural on this project to bring them in as a partner as they know
the application methods, they know a lot of the chemistries—what is needed to be done
to create a final product that can be sold.
Peter Mills: I’ve often used Tom and his colleagues as a source of expertise when it
comes to fly ash. Tom thought of us and our knowledge of cement products to help to work
with them to develop this product for the infrastructure project. And that’s how Tekcrete
Fast came about.
Tom Robl: We started out with one product, and Minova’s already got two out of it.
Peter Mills: The difference between Tekcrete Fast and Tekcrete Fast M is that the M has
been specially treated so that it’ almost dust free.
Tom Robl: All of the mining companies they’ve shown it to are really happy with it.
In the mining environment, when something needs to be fixed or stabilized, it’s got
to be done quickly. It’s almost a crisis situation, like a shock-damaged structure.
Peter Mills: These products are unique, not only in America, but I believe in the world,
too. So wherever you could see a need for structural support effectively immediately,
these products will fit the bill.
VO: Fast set times and extreme strength come from fly ash—a byproduct of coal combustion.
Rodney Andrews: CAER has the largest program in the United States looking at the use of
coal combustion, gasification byproducts. These are things like fly ash… Rather than
putting them in a landfill or into a pond we try to find ways to have these used…as
sustainable construction materials. They work very well as replacements for Portland cement.
More recently, the work’s been focused on using them to make specialty concretes, low-energy
cements, fast-setting cements, and what are called calcium-sulfoaluminate cements, which
are a completely different chemistry than Portland.
VO: Concrete typically contains crushed stone, sand, and Portland cement.
Tom Robl: It’s called a pozzolan…and what it does it makes the concrete stronger, it
makes it more durable, and it makes it more resistant to certain kinds of chemical attacks.
You can’t make high-performance concrete without a pozzolan. The number one role of
fly ash is to replace Portland cement.
In my opinion, replacing Portland cement and displacing it represents the greatest engineering
materials challenge of our time. Portland cement is the third largest emitter of carbon
dioxide on the planet.
What we’re doing here with CSA, these calcium sulfoaluminate-based materials… they can
be formulated by using coal-combustion byproducts at carbon emission levels a third that of
Portland cement.
We were able to take a system that is fundamentally different from Portland, and use a whole different
set of chemical tools in engineering this material. Instead of forming a gel, they form
an actual crystal. You can use nucleating agents… things that force the crystal to
form faster. That’s one of the key things that we’ve done.
Minova handled all the patent work. They simultaneously filed patents in London and Washington D.C.
Peter Mills: We need to protect our very valuable intellectual property.
Bob Jewell: This project has embodied research. What I love about research, you can sit down
with an idea or concept and you get to follow it through. And every step poses new problems,
new questions, and allows you to come up with these new answers. From concept to trial in
the lab to field testing to actual product—it’s pretty amazing and unique.
Tom Robl: We’re actually looking at some derivative technologies... If not this exact
formulation, probably something that is the daughter or son of—at least grandson—of
this. So we view this as the beginning of a fruitful and hopefully very lucrative collaboration
between Minova and the University of Kentucky.