Materials

Graphene used to make stronger, greener concrete

Graphene used to make stronger...
Samples of the graphene-enhanced concrete
Samples of the graphene-enhanced concrete
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Samples of the graphene-enhanced concrete
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Samples of the graphene-enhanced concrete
When tested, the graphene-enhanced concrete was found to have a 146-percent increase in compressive strength as compared to regular concrete, a 79.5-percent increase in flexural strength, and a decrease in water permeability of almost 400 percent
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When tested, the graphene-enhanced concrete was found to have a 146-percent increase in compressive strength as compared to regular concrete, a 79.5-percent increase in flexural strength, and a decrease in water permeability of almost 400 percent

Graphene, the "wonder material" composed of a one-atom-thick sheet of linked carbon atoms, is the world's strongest manmade material. Now, scientists have used it to create a new type of concrete that is much stronger, water-resistant and eco-friendly than what we're used to.

To make the concrete, a team from Britain's University of Exeter devised a technique of suspending flakes of graphene in water, then mixing that water with traditional concrete ingredients such as cement and aggregate. The process is reportedly inexpensive, and compatible with modern, large-scale manufacturing requirements.

When tested, the graphene-enhanced concrete was found to have a 146-percent increase in compressive strength as compared to regular concrete, a 79.5-percent increase in flexural strength, and a decrease in water permeability of almost 400 percent. The material meets British and European standards for construction.

The increased strength and water resistance should allow structures made with the concrete to last much longer than would otherwise be possible. This means that they wouldn't have to be replaced as often, which in turn means that less concrete would have to be poured – and production of the cement used in concrete is a major source of carbon dioxide emissions.

When tested, the graphene-enhanced concrete was found to have a 146-percent increase in compressive strength as compared to regular concrete, a 79.5-percent increase in flexural strength, and a decrease in water permeability of almost 400 percent
When tested, the graphene-enhanced concrete was found to have a 146-percent increase in compressive strength as compared to regular concrete, a 79.5-percent increase in flexural strength, and a decrease in water permeability of almost 400 percent

Additionally, the inclusion of graphene in the concrete reportedly allows for a reduction of about 50 percent of other materials used, including cement. The scientists state that this factor should result in a 446 kg/tonne reduction in emitted CO2.

"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," says PhD student Dimitar Dimov, who led the research. "It is the first step, but a crucial step in the right direction to make a more sustainable construction industry for the future."

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

Source: University of Exeter

10 comments
VincentWolf
Absolutely a great discovery. You could probably pour a 2.5 to 3 inch slab and have it stronger than a typical 4 inch slab. That would cost significantly less.
CAVUMark
Available commercially when?
DFrancis
If graphene concrete is stronger than convential concrete, will less be needed for a specified strength requirement? And thus what other ways will this reduced mass benefit the construction industry?
CarolynFarstrider
Sounds really great, but the CO2 emissions element would need to allow for the production and transport of the graphene as well. Also, what would happen if the material needed to be recycled? Building reusable blocks would be helpful. I have some concerns about weathering of the concrete releasing large amounts of graphene into the natural environment - would we end up with oceans loaded with graphene, in the same way as we have plastics today.
Vernon Miles Kerr
This might revolutionize the 3D-printed architecture field. One can imagine lighter, thinner and stronger walls. Since these buildings might last for hundreds of years, let's hope that architects don't get wild with crazy, easily-dated wild designs.
Signguy
So insane they come up with all these new varieties of materials and yet when compared to the Natural concrete made with hemp fiber there's no comparison. Hempcrete is far stronger lighter and actually cleans the air! But the idiots in our government won't allow hemp to be grown even though it has tremendous benefits in sound, clothing, building, etc.
windykites
Why is graphene stronger than graphite?
Don Duncan
Geopolymer concrete is far from new. It has been used in Europe and Australia for decades because it is much better than the standard in the US. But so is basalt rebar over steel. It's cheaper, stronger, and won't rust. Together, these SHOULD HAVE disrupted (eliminated) the standard Portland/steel combo. Ask any expert in the field. Why hasn't it? I can think of only one answer, politics as usual, collusion between the businesses that would suffer and politicians/bureaucrats. It must be cheaper (easier) to bribe than to change. This is inevitable when govt. is given the power to regulate business. It is NOT a few bad people getting in power. It is the result of political power in every nation, every time. But it prevails because "we the people" choose promised protection from an imagined evil (business). Why? Fear, envy, ignorance. This is what brought down the Roman Empire and every other great society.
HighlanderJuan
Nice article, but we all should know by now that CO2 is not a poison gas - it's a vitally needed gas for all plant life. Take away the CO2 and plants die. Add more CO2 and plants thrive.
BanisterJH
It would be interesting to learn the amount of improvement graphene makes in the flexural strength of cellular concrete. A lot of reinforcing fibers don't bond with the cement well enough to provide much benefit after air entrainment, but the graphene is thin enough that it might.