Researchers from Singapore have developed a bendable type of concrete that retains the strength and endurance of regular concrete.
Engineers at Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) School of Civil and Environmental Engineering have produced a product, called ConFlexPave, which combines concrete with polymer microfibres. The inclusion of these synthetic fibres allows the material to flex and bend under tension and enhances skid resistance.
The key breakthrough was understanding how the components of the materials interact with one another mechanically on a microscopic level, said NTU Assistant Professor Yang En-Hua.
“With detailed understanding, we can then deliberately select ingredients and engineer the tailoring of components, so our final material can fulfil specific requirements needed for road and pavement applications,” said Yang.
“The hard materials give a non-slip surface texture while the microfibres, which are thinner than the width of a human hair, distribute the load across the whole slab, resulting in a concrete that is tough as metal and at least twice as strong as conventional concrete under bending,” he added.
He said the innovation allows the creation of slim precast pavement slabs for quick installation, halving the time needed for road works and new pavements, while requiring less maintenance.
The work was done at the NTU-JTC Industrial Infrastructure Innovation Centre and JTC’s Mr Koh Chwee said that the technology will not only enable the construction industry to reduce labour intensive on-site work, enhance workers’ safety and reduce construction time, it also benefits road users by cutting down the inconvenience caused by road resurfacing and construction works.