A collaborative study led by researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) and the Politecnico di Milano has resulted in a new ultra-resistant and self-repairing concrete material, complying with the framework of the European ReSHEALience project.
The material has 30% more durability when compared to the traditional high-performance concrete in cracking situations. When a crack occurs, it is capable of repairing itself automatically using self-repairing techniques.
These properties are possible mainly thanks to the design of the mixture and the use of components such as crystalline additives, alumina nanofibers and cellulose nanocrystals, which are capable of improving the ability of the material to repair itself.
Pedro Serna, Researcher, Institute of Concrete Science and Technology, Universitat Politècnica de València.
Another benefit of these new cementitious materials is cutting down both ordinary and extraordinary maintenance work, enabling them to exceed the usual 50-year limit of current design codes. The application of the material is specifically suitable for infrastructures subjected to severe environments, such as constructions located near the sea and for geothermal power plants.
In this project we are demonstrating how the durability of cementitious materials becomes a characteristic that can be designed through the synergy between the composition of the material and the structural conception. We have designed and are testing new cementitious compounds with the capacity for structural self-repair in the cracking phase, which is the usual state faced by a reinforced concrete structure.
Marta Roig Flores, Researcher, Institute of Concrete Science and Technology, Universitat Politècnica de València
Accordingly, ResHEALience represents an alteration from the durability aspect of the material understood as passive protection against external aggressions to an “active” vision of the same.
Tested in Six Large-Scale Pilot Structures with Electronic Tongues
During the validation stage, the ultra-high-strength cementitious compounds designed in this study were employed to construct six large-scale pilot structures, which are currently under verification subjecting to real structural operating conditions.
A couple of them are in Valencian Community (a float designed for floating wind towers, built in collaboration with Rover Maritime and the UPV, which is installed in the port of Sagunt, and a raft for mussels installed in the port of València by the Valencian company DRC), another two in Italy and one each in Malta and Ireland.
These structures are under continuous monitoring with UPV technology, using an extensive network of sensors governed by a team from the IDM Institute. This enables the verification of their performance over time.
The system is self-contained and configured similar to an electronic tongue that offers instant and continuous information on the durability of the structure. Furthermore, it helps to identify the risk of corrosion and the presence of aggressive agents that can impact the structures.
These data allow the experts in the field to verify the good condition of the structures, or, as the case may be, to adopt the necessary measures to prevent the damage from worsening, by using the most appropriate, economical, and less affected method of protection or repair on the operation of the structure.
Juan Soto, Researcher, IDM Institute, Universitat Politècnica de València
The project commenced in 2018 and is expected to conclude in March 2022, even though it is already a fact that the ReSHEALience consortium attained the target of verifying the concept of ultra-thin durability concrete (UHDC).
In association with Politecnico di Milano, who is designated as the coordinator and the UPV, the consortium roped in 13 partners and additional three parties (six universities and research institutes and ten industrial partners) from seven countries, namely, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Malta and Israel.
The ReSHEALience project was financially supported by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 program.