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Civil Engineering Materials for the New Century

Dr. Christopher K.Y.Leung Professor, Department of Civil Engineering Director, Advanced Engineering Material Facilities

Presentation at the Innovation and Design Expo, Nov. 2006, Hong Kong

Need of Innovations in Construction Materials

Infrastructure Decay Problems in Developed Countries - More Durable Materials should be Developed - Efficient and Effective Repair Materials are Required Rapid Growth in Developing Countries (e.g., China) - Requirements on Material Durability, Sustainability as well as Construction Efficiency Improvement of Living Quality - Functional Materials that are Self-Cleaning, Sound-Proof, etc

Durable Construction Materials: High Performance Concrete

Steel Corrosion is the Main Durability Problem Resistance to Water/Chloride Penetration is Most Critical High Performance Concrete with Low Permeability/Diffusivity has been developed with - Low Water/Cement Ratio - Addition of Pozzolanic Admixtures (e.g., silica fume, fly ash) for Further Refinement of Pores - Superplasticizers to facilitate Flow Self-compacting Concrete has also been developed - No need for Vibration implies Faster Construction - Better Quality Control (especially at Locations where Compaction is Difficult to Perform) Improves Durability

Durable Construction Materials: Pseudo-Ductile Cementitious Composites

Bending Curves of Concrete and Flexcrete
200 Load (N) 150 100 50 0 -50 0 5 10 15 20 Deformation (mm) concrete Flexcrete

Behavior under Bending

Load vs Displacement Curve

Crack Spacing

Can Deform Significantly with CONTROLLED Small Cracks With Small Crack Openings, Low Permeability can be Maintained over Life-Span of Structure Material Relatively Costly, can be used to Construct Permanent Formwork to Maximize Performance/Cost

PDCC as Protective Layer for Spalled Concrete

PDCC Layer

Spalled Concrete

Reinforcing Steel

Loose Concrete Block pushing behind PDCC with 5mm thickness

Stage 1

Stage 3

Stage 4

Durable Construction Materials: Improved Reinforcing Bars

Steel Reinforcements with High Corrosion Resistance Microcomposite Steel with Carbide Free Microstructure to Avoid Formation of Microgalvanic Cells Glass Fiber Reinforced Plastics (GFRP) Reinforcements - Various Surface Textures for Bond Improvement

Microcomposite Steel Rebar

GFRP Rebar

Durable Construction Materials: Fiber Reinforced Plastics

- Examples include Glass Fiber Reinforced Plastics (GFRP) and Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics - Advantages over Steel and Concrete include - High Strength to Weight Ratio - Lighter Members Facilitate Construction - Particularly Suitable for Repair/Retrofitting - High Durability under Various Environments - High Quality Pre-Fabrication in the Plant - Composites have been used in Aircrafts, Cars, Sports Goods and Boats for Several Decades - Applications in Construction have already started

Examples of GFRP Structures

Pontresina Footbridge Switzerland

Aberfeldy Footbridge Scotland, U.K.

GFRP Bridge Deck Replacement U.S.A.

Examples of GFRP Structures

Eyecatcher Building Basel, Switzerland

Mondial House London, U.K.

Structural Retrofitting with CFRP

To Carry the Same Force, the Weight of CFRP required is only several Percent that of Steel For Strengthening, CFRP can be Glued to the Structure Layer by Layer High Efficiency and No Need for Heavy Machinary Ideal for Structural Rehabilitation

Durable Construction Materials: Nanocomposite Coating

Exfoliated nanoclay-epoxy matrix nanocomposites are Excellent Barriers to Water and Ion Movement Applicable as Coating of Concrete Structures

Data shows Significant Reduction of Chloride Penetration with the use of I30P Nanoclay-Epoxy Coating on Concrete Surface

Durability Enhancement: Smart Materials

- Materials with Sensing Capability - Early Detection of Damage - Improve Safety - Enable Proper Maintenance to Extend Lifetime (1) Cementitious Piezoceramic Composites


Applied Stress induce Electric Current

Sensing Capability

Sensor Testing and Results

27 24 21 18 Load 15 12 9 6 3 0 0 50 100 Time 150 200 250

Loading process Frequency fixed

Voltage Output of Sensor is in Good Correlation With Applied Loading

Smart Materials (2): Corrosion Sensing with Fiber Optics Basic Principle
Optical Fiber

Thin Iron Coating

With sufficient coating thickness, Light is totally reflected


Light Loss at Fiber End

Drop in Intensity of Reflected Light

Corrosion Sensor Embedded in Concrete Members with Added Salt
2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 0 -0.5 Days after Em bedm ent 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 Wet Wet Dry Dry

Sensor can detect corrosion and distinguish between different corrosive environments

dB Loss in Light Power

Concrete for Sustainable Development (1)

- Cement Production Consumes Energy and Produces Carbon Dioxide - New Cement Compositions with Lower Energy Requirement and CO2 Emission are being Developed - Cement can be Replaced by Supplementary Materials that are either Natural (e.g., Metakaolin) or Generated in Industrial Processes (e.g., Fly Ash)

Concrete for Sustainable Development (2)

- Aggregates make up a Large Part of Concrete - Waste Materials can be used as Aggregates - Recycled Concrete from Demolished Structures

- Shredded Rubber Tyres

Concrete for Sustainable Development (3)

- Foamed Concrete with Low Thermal Conductivity can Lead to Significant Energy Savings when Cooling/Heating is Required - Lightweight also Facilitates Construction

Foamed Concrete With Fine Pores

Precast Building with Foamed Concrete Facades

Extrusion Process for Prefabricated Members

Key for Successful Extrusion - Appropriate Rheology (Materials) - Uniform and Powerful Extrusion Force (Extruder) - Smooth Forming Condition (Die) Enables Large Scale Production of Concrete Components

Extruded Fiber Reinforced Composite: Bending Behavior



Max. bending stress = 42 MPa



St ress(M P a)





0 0 2 4 6 D efl o n (m m ) ecti 8 10 12

- With Fibers, High Strength and Ductility are Achieved

Various Components formed by Extrusion

Re-usable Formwork Honeycomb Wall Panel


Irregular Tile

Colored Panel for Building Exterior

Cable Trough

Lightweight Dry Wall Panel (with Foam Beads)

Functional Materials: Sound-Proofing

- Special Sound Proof Material with Steel/Rubber Composite Balls


Steel Oscillates in Rubber at a given Frequency To absorb energy can tune the ball to make it Effective at Different Frequencies

An Experiment to Measure Transmission Loss

Material to be Studied


Typical Results
50 45 Tra nsmis sion loss/dB 40 35 30 25 20 15 0 100 200 300 Frequency/Hz cement Gypsum+foam Gypsum+air 400 RSM material


Sound Proof Material can effectively absorb energy at a relatively LOW frequency range, where transmission loss is small for Conventional Materials

Functional Materials: Self-Cleaning

- Titanium Oxide Produces Hydrophobic Surface - It also acts as Photo-Catalyst for UV Light to - Decompose Organic Stains and Pollutents - Kill Bacteria

A TiO2 Coated B Normal Tile

Jubilee Church, Rome, Italy (Cement containing TiO2)

SUMMARY There has been Ongoing Innovative Work to Produce New Construction Materials for - Better Durability - Improved Construction Efficiency - Environmental Sustainability - Various Functional Requirements Better Material Performance often Associated with Higher Costs Practical Implementation Requires - Life Cycle Cost Consideration - Changing Mentality of Structure Owners Regarding Quality of the Product