The New Nano-Crystal Infused Concrete
The hunt for the cheapest, strongest and most efficient concrete is never-ending. Purdue University has recently developed a form of concrete that is bolstered by nanocrystals from wood. By increasing the hydration of a concrete mixture with less water, the wood nanoparticles make the material stronger and expedite its setting time. This will effectively decrease the need for as much of the material and will increase its load capacity and durability. California will be the first state to implement this new form of concrete in a building project set for the upcoming summer.
Concrete’s strength is directly determined by how hydrated it is. The nanoparticles, developed as a byproduct of the pulp and paper industries, initiate a chemical reaction within the concrete which effectively increases the hydration of the cement particles. This process is what is essentially responsible for the increased strength that this form of concrete possess. The intuitive thought is that water increases cement hydration, however, that is not the case. Water actually, in addition, to increase hydration, adds pores that make the concrete weaker, but cellulose nanocrystals, on the other hand, enhance hydration with a smaller requirement for water. The cellulose-infused concrete also has the added benefit of setting faster, in addition to requiring less material to obtain the same level of strength and increased sustainability. The added cost of producing this form of concrete will be offset or even surpassed, by the fact that less of the material will be needed. It is also crucial to note that cellulose, the key material to creating this infused concrete, is the most abundant organic compound on Earth. California’s building project will be watched very closely to determine whether or not the notion of thinner and more durable concrete that is just as strong has any merit.