Sustainable Seawater Concrete Mimics the Cementation of Ancient Roman Concrete

A civil engineering researcher from the University of Texas at Arlington is drawing inspiration from ancient civilizations to develop a more resilient, long-lasting, and durable cement material.

Warda Ashraf. Image Credit: The University of Texas at Arlington.

Warda Ashraf, Associate Professor of civil engineering, got the Director’s Award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Warda Ashraf was one of 29 DARPA Young Faculty Award (YFA) recipients in 2020, receiving approximately $500,000 as financial assistance for her study over a two-year period. The new DARPA Director’s Award offers an additional $247,000 in funding for one year.

Only the best performers among the most recent DARPA YFA recipients are given this extremely selective award, which was created to encourage early-career scientists to conduct high-risk, high-reward research that could lead to ground-breaking solutions for the nation’s security needs.

Ashraf’s findings were published in the journal Applied Clay Science. Ashraf created the formula and corresponding processing methods for new cementitious material by replicating the reaction mechanism of ancient Roman concrete.

The recipe for this cementitious material includes the use of naturally abundant clay with hydrated lime and seawater. This newly developed cementitious material was able to mimic the nano-to-microstructural features of Roman concrete and showed superior macroscale mechanical performances compared to those of ancient materials.

Warda Ashraf, Associate Professor, Civil Engineering, The University of Texas at Arlington

In laboratory exposure conditions, the material demonstrated superior durability compared to contemporary cementitious materials. It might drastically lower the expense of maintaining coastal infrastructure.

The material really represents a game-changer in the world of cement materials. It increases durability while reducing costs.

Warda Ashraf, Associate Professor, Civil Engineering, The University of Texas at Arlington

According to Melanie Sattler, Interim Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering, Ashraf’s study on cement materials has the possibility to reach worldwide.

Anyone who uses cement could try this new material. This research has a chance to rewrite the way the cement business is conducted worldwide.

Melanie Sattler, Interim Chair, Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Texas at Arlington

Ashraf and her group will use the additional Director’s Award funding to assess the performance of newly designed calcined, clay-based cementitious materials in real-world seawater exposure situations.

Researchers will create concrete elements utilizing the newly designed composition for this endeavor and install them in the Corpus Christi Bay area of Texas. At regular intervals, the functionality of the concrete elements in seawater will be monitored. They will also assess the material’s environmental impact to guarantee that it can be manufactured in a sustainable manner.

Journal Reference:

Ashraf, W., et al. (2022) Mimicking the cementation mechanism of ancient Roman seawater concrete using calcined clays. Applied Clay Science. doi.org/10.1016/j.clay.2022.106696.

Source: https://www.uta.edu

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