Graphene Concrete 30% Stronger in Commercial Project

In May, 2021, UK construction company Nationwide Engineering laid the world’s first graphene-enhanced concrete slab engineered for sustainability in a commercial setting.

The new Southern Quarter gym in Amesbury’s Solstice Park opened in summer 2021. This is a joint venture between Nationwide Engineering and The University of Manchester.

The addition of tiny amounts of graphene reportedly strengthens Nationwide Engineering’s new product, Concretene, by around 30% compared to standard concrete, meaning significantly less material is needed to achieve the equivalent structural performance, reducing carbon footprint and costs.

The additional strength also reduces the need for steel reinforcement, saving material and time on site and further promoting the green credentials of this building method.

Nationwide Engineering estimates that an additional cost of 5% for Concretene will be offset by the reduction in material to deliver an overall saving of 10-20% over standard RC30 concrete.

To make Concretene, liquid concrete sets into its solid form through chemical reactions known as hydration and gelation, where the water and cement in the mixture react to form a paste that dries and hardens over time. Graphene makes a difference by acting as a mechanical support and as a catalyst surface for the initial hydration reaction, leading to better bonding at microscopic scale and giving the finished product improved strength, durability and corrosion resistance.

16 thoughts on “Graphene Concrete 30% Stronger in Commercial Project”

  1. "I tell the tale that I heard told" Without tensile considerations, the *change* from old stacked rockwork to "modern" Portland cement mortar (and concrete?) is that the old stuff will last forever. This is because the modern Portland plan is to make an aggregate of the stones and/or brick with the mortar keeping them separate, so it will not crack as it would when the solid pieces expand and contract while touching each other. The mortar is mixed to mimic the hardness and expansion of the stone to help here. It, the Portland, is strong enuf to do this, unlike the lime crack fillers that do not support structure in the old stacked rock buildings. But, to build this, you have to carefully bed the rocks into the mortar, keeping from just smushing it down until it hits the rock below. Takes nice thick mortar, too. But, if/when(??) the Portland goes, there goes the structure.

  2. Biosphere 2 has long interested me. I happened to drive by the site and saw the sign early on, but it was not open at all. Already had read O'Neill, so very interesting. Saw from the start that they were asking the wrong question: "How can we do this on Mars?". The big problem was the too rich compost, instead of normal soil. Had a fire in the tent, burning imported wood, so no wonder O2 was low. Even with the concrete removing some CO2, the CO2 level was high, but plants could never keep up with the fire. One must start with a balance to keep a balance. O2 was needed both to feed the concrete CO2 and burn the imported C, so there never was a starting balance. O2 problems and lighting problems would not happen in Space.

  3. Yes, the Biosphere and longer term concrete questions are separate. I have a long held opinion that Portland has a chemical degradation problem *perhaps* from carbolic acid exposure, like limestone, so is not permanent the way recently understood Roman concrete is, which self heals from minerals in certain volcanic ash they found. This is longer term than I can find with quick search, which shows the 80 year hardening clearly. I may have gotten the idea that CO2 too early or too much was damaging the B2 concrete, as they were talking of trying to seal it. "stronger if more is available" contradicts that. Never imagined they were trying to seal instead of simply adding O2 to make up. So, is the Portland based concrete *eternal* if used as post tension slab with glass rebar?

  4. Indeed. Also, the air pressure adds an additional sort of structure. I've wondered why the rotating structures depicted do not have cables from *above* to hang buildings from, instead they show buildings with standard foundations and compression structure for height.

  5. Pretty much all the old style designs for stone and concrete assumed zero tensile strength. Anything in masonry or stone before about the late victorian era is a pure compressive design.

    All the Roman and medieval stuff. The great cathedrals. The great islamic buildings. Ankgor Wat. The old Egyptian stuff. etc. etc.

    Some of the classic ancient greek things did not quite do this. Because they were based on designs originally done in wood. And they did all sorts of sneaky tricks to make their stone designs look like wood designs. Including, some archeologists say, sneaking in some iron reinforcing.

  6. A spinning structure will need tensile strength, not compressive. So I would expect space structures to use materials like steel and carbon nanotubes, rather than concrete.

  7. I’ll have to agree that the longer a structure is used, and not requiring more materials and energy expended in constant repairs and rebuilding, the greener it is. I’ve been all over Rome and other ex Roman European cities extensively, and marveled at structures that have stood for over 2000 years, subjected to weather, earthquakes, abuse, war and general neglect until only recently. They’re all still standing and usable structures. It may kill the construction industry long term, but getting rid of CO2 generation in concrete construction may usher in a new era of architecture.

  8. What about the environmental/health hazards associated with graphenes? Disposal of concrete structures is known for releasing uncontrolled amounts of dust even with the best protection.

  9. "Well, I'm not the expert, but pretty sure Portland cement degrades with CO2 exposure"

    Precisely backwards, actually. Portland cement absorbs CO2 while curing, and ends up stronger if more is available. That's part of the problem Biosphere 2 had: Oxygen was disappearing from the system because the concrete was absorbing it as CO2, denying the plants the opportunity to convert it back.

  10. Well, I'm not the expert, but pretty sure Portland cement degrades with CO2 exposure, as in Biosphere 2 with the extra compost problem. I'm remembering that strongest is at about 80 years. Now, the secret of Roman concrete has been discovered, and seawalls that last *forever* are planned in England, I believe.

  11. I think concrete setting in micr0g will not need such a scaffolding, and will set even stronger. Let the crystals decide where to be!

    A specific example of convection interference, or perhaps shrinkage while drying/setting, of the concrete? No convection in micr0g.

  12. Agreed that steel is the real culprit here. Very convenient to use, but you shouldn't be using it near the ocean. Basalt fiber rebar won't cause the spalling that steel does.

    Designing entirely without tensile reinforcement is possible, too, but the designs look radically different.

  13. Engineers are concerned with two measurements of "strength", compressive, and tensile. Concrete has very good compressive strength, but it's tensile strength is so low, that typically in calculations it is considered to be zero. Steel reinforcement is needed to provide tensile, not compressive strength, since concrete already has plenty of that. Improvement of the compressive strength would not decrease the need for steel very much at all.

    I believe that to be "sustainable" no steel may be used in concrete, since it inevitably leads to the destruction of whatever is built. That's why the Pantheon has lasted nearly two millennia, it has no steel reinforcement.

    How much "greener" is a structure that is usable for millennia, rather than 50 or 100 years? Less if near the ocean. The collapse of the tower in metro Miami, FL appears to be due to corrosion of steel reinforcing bars, not a failure of the concrete.

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