Decoding Design

'Super Concrete' to make buildings stronger, more flexible

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Materials being developed at the University of Michigan could help buildings and infrastructure last longer and withstand more natural disasters.

Researchers at the University of Michigan's school for Civil and Environmental Engineering are developing concrete that is stronger than conventional concrete, and also has higher ductility -- that is, the ability to be bent or deformed without losing strength.

Developed in collaboration with the United States Army, the material has a compressive strength that is two to three times that of other high strength conventional concrete. It has tensile ductility of over 3 percent, says the school. That's more than 300 times that of other high strength concrete.

In conventional concrete, as embedded steel re-bar corrodes it expands and causes the concrete to fracture, explains Professor Victor Li. But thanks to its ductility, the material he is developing is not as susceptible to this type of fracturing.

The targeted applications for the new material include buildings and infrastructure elements, such as bridges.

Via: Product Design & Development

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Mary Catherine O'Connor

Contributing Writer

Mary Catherine O'Connor has written for Outside, Fast Company, Wired.com, Smithsonian.com, Entrepreneur, Earth2Tech.com, Earth Island Journal and The Magazine. She is based in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure