A new tool for on-site measurement of water in concrete (MR Solutions)

Lead Participant: innovate UK


Concrete is the most widely used building material in the world - three tons is used for each
human on the planet in new build and repair of existing structures. Concrete is composed of
cement powder, aggregates and water. Cement reacts with water bonding the aggregates and
causing concrete setting and hardening.
In building large structures, it is important that enough time is allowed for the strength of one
concrete layer to build up before the next is applied. However, serious construction delays
result and costs are incurred if too much time is given. It is therefore surprising that nowadays
destructive or off-site tests are performed on a regular basis to measure concrete strength
during construction. Measuring water content rapidly on-site would provide such a measure
more efficiently and minimise costs.
Subsequent degradation is generally linked to transport of water into or out of the structure.
Without being able to assess state of water in concrete, it is again not possible to minimise
degradation repair costs and concrete used for refurbishment.
We believe that there is an opportunity to develop a new low-cost, purpose-designed, portable
tool for this purpose that could be used either on-site or in test-house laboratories by nonspecialist
engineers and scientists. It builds on ten years collaborative work between the
University of Surrey, cement production companies, and most recently the National Physical
Laboratory to use and define Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) instruments to quantify
and characterise water in cements. NMR is the technology behind medical MRI scanners.
MR Solutions proposes to capitalise upon this work to develop a portable NMR instrument for
on-site use by the construction industry. This project will produce an assessment of the
commercial viability of this type of instrument and the appropriate routes-to-market and
business-model(s) for supply.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer



innovate UK, Swindon


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