All’s well that bends well: Bendable Concrete

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Construction technology has changed with time to suit the needs of current constructions. One such path-breaking innovation changes the very definition of “concrete.” Who thought concrete could be flexible? Bendable concrete, also known as Engineered Cementitious Composite (ECC), is a flexible and  ductile mortar-based concrete composite that is reinforced using polymer microfibers. ECC has extremely high strain capacity and tensile strength compared with those of conventionally used cement. Therefore, this material is useful for various applications. ECC is not a fixed material. This is because it is still under research and development based on micromechanics and fracture mechanics theory for providing the material with varying degrees of tensile ductility according to its application.

ECC has various favorable properties. These include the following:

  1. Superior tensile strength
  2. Easy to process
  3. Minimum use of specially selected fibres
  4. Compact and micro-level crack width
  5. Absence of anisotropically weak planes
  6. Self-healing in nature

 

To explain this further, the microcracking behavior provides corrosion resistance. Because the cracks are microscopic, they may be numerous but it prevents penetration of unwanted substances and corrosion of the reinforcing steel. Apart from this, it is self-healing. Calcium compounds in the concrete that are exposed to moisture form compounds such as calcite and calcium silicate hydrate that fill in the microcracks, thus preventing further penetration of contaminants and protecting the structure from corrosion.

The following types of bendable concrete are available:

  1. Lightweight ECC
  2. Self-compacting ECC
  3. Sprayable ECC
  4. Extrudable ECC

Concrete has achieved newfound flexibility paving a way for stronger and long-standing structures. We can only wait and see what comes next. Stay tuned for more innovations in the world of construction.

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