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ICE Applauds Research On Self-Healing Concrete

22 July 2016

Work on developing self-healing concrete – currently under trial at a Costain site in South Wales – has been recognised at the Institution of Civil Engineers Wales Cymru Awards 2016.

The material won the Studies & Research Award following its trials on the A465 Heads of the Valleys highways project under the Materials for Life (M4L) research programme.

The M4L project team has developed the self-healing system in concrete using a range of technologies to slow down the effects of damage or deterioration of concrete.

The Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council project is a collaboration between Cardiff University, the University of Cambridge and the University of Bath. Costain has been sponsoring the universities’ work on the material.

Cracks in concrete can allow water ingress, leading to a weakening of internal reinforcement. The project has investigated individual and combined healing techniques including encapsulating healing agents, bacterial healing agents, crack closure using shape memory polymer tendons and supply of healing agents through vascular networks in the material.

Amalgamating these techniques has been shown to improve overall healing efficiency by recovering strength after damage.

Costain has built a concrete structure at the A465 site that includes five wall panels incorporating different combinations of the self-healing techniques. The panels are deliberately damaged to see how they react and recover over time. According to the judges, this has been an important step in evaluating the feasibility of self-healing concrete.

While specific uses of the material have not yet been established, future research may well result in useful methods of reducing deterioration of concrete in the future.

“What they needed was a full-scale trial and they asked us if we would help them,” said A456 Project Director Bruce Richards.

The award was handed over by the President of the ICE, Sir John Armitt, himself a former Chief Executive of Costain.

Caption: ICE President John Armitt (third left) presents A456 Project Director Bruce Richards (centre), Project Manager Andrea Green and Dr Robert Davies of Cardiff University (second from right) flank with ICE Wales Cymru’s Studies & Research Award.  Photo courtesy of FotoWales.


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