Posted December 27, 2017

University of Michigan lab working to create ultra-strong concrete

New non-proprietary formula promises numerous uses, including pothole-resistant roads.

There are two KitchenAid mixers sitting on the counter and next to them, a mixer that looks like it’s been taking designer steroids for a decade.

Into that giant mixer go a bunch of dry ingredients. The mixer whirs to life and stirs for five minutes or so.

Then, the liquids go in and the mixer whirs back to life and shortly, the recipe is done.

But this isn’t your grandma’s kitchen — and the finished product isn’t holiday cake batter. It’s a lab in the basement of a University of Michigan building and the stuff inside the mixer bowl is concrete — ultra-high-performance concrete to be exact.

And while it has existed before, a team of U-M engineers has come up with a non-proprietary formula that has all sorts of potential uses.

It could be used to create better roads that don’t turn into a pothole maze as fast; help build super-strong, super-tall buildings and even have uses in making blast-proof buildings.

Regular concrete will have a strength of about 4,000 pounds per square inch (psi) … that’s maybe the weight of an SUV on every square inch,” said Sherif El-Tawil, a U-M professor of civil and environmental engineering. “However, UHPC can support at least 22,000 psi or six times as much.”

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