Tailored Reinforced Concrete Infrastructure

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering

Abstract

Cement production is an environmentally intensive process and responsible for 5-7% of man-made CO2 emissions. A promising strategy to mitigate this impact is to derive more value from the cement we produce and thereby reduce the volumes required. This allows society to benefit from the advantages of concrete as a building material while ensuring cement is utilised more efficiently.
This project proposes a radical rethink about how we design and construct reinforced concrete through the development of tailored concrete infrastructure systems. This approach has the potential to reduce cement consumption leading to significant CO2 savings. The research will include detailed investigations of the structural behaviour of reinforced concrete and the material properties of concrete in the context of resilience and resistance to mechanical and environmental loadings. A range of structural and material systems will be explored and the most promising avenues will be the focus of detailed experimental studies. The development of predictive tools based on closed form and/or finite element solutions, strategies to address manufacturing challenges, and methods to beneficially exploit emerging technologies are also envisaged.

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509620/1 30/09/2016 29/09/2022
2275026 Studentship EP/N509620/1 30/09/2019 29/06/2023 Jessica Charlotte Forsdyke
EP/R513180/1 30/09/2018 29/09/2023
2275026 Studentship EP/R513180/1 30/09/2019 29/06/2023 Jessica Charlotte Forsdyke
 
Description This award has been used to carry out multiple experiments and in-depth analysis to improve understanding of the behaviour of carbonation of functionally graded concrete elements. Carbonation is the process of environmental CO2 reacting with concrete, and functionally graded elements can be used to minimise embodied carbon through improved efficiency of cement allocation. Thereby, improved understanding of this behaviour has significant potential impact for carbon savings. Work from these experiments has been published in conference proceedings, with further conference and journal paper outputs forthcoming.
Exploitation Route The hope is that these findings will be used to change the construction industry for concrete structures, such that better allocation of concrete mixes is employed, and carbonation of concrete can be used beneficially.
Sectors Construction

 
Description Throughout the project we have been working with industry partners discussing their current methods and processes for concrete mix design specification. From discussions we have been able to highlight areas where mix design choices could be more efficient, or where the performance of a concrete mix has not been thoroughly considered. In general, disucssions with industry have triggered them to think about the stakeholders in their concrete specification process, and where the most impactful decisions are being made (so these can be improved with regards to embodied carbon).
First Year Of Impact 2022
Sector Construction
 
Description Cambridge University Structures Seminar (Forsdyke) - Tailored concrete for durability 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A presentation on the importance of durability and how concrete can be tailored to save CO2 and meet desired durability requirements encouraged debate amongst participants and knowledge exchange.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Cambridge Zero Research Symposium (Forsdyke) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The presentation encouraged reflection on the CO2 impact of concrete and awareness of need for cement reduction.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.zero.cam.ac.uk/cambridge-zero-research-symposia-2021
 
Description Concrete Sustainable Design Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Online workshop with Costain design team members to establish what the driving factors are for specification of specific concrete mixes or concrete properties when these are influenced by the structural design. This lead to lots of discussion, and was followed by another workshop reporting back findings to a larger working group of Costain and CIRG members.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description LafargeHolcim Zero Carbon Hackathon 17-19 November 2019 (Gimenez Fernandez and Forsdyke) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Members of the research team participated in a Hackathon to come up with novel lower carbon concrete solutions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.eng.cam.ac.uk/news/zero-carbon-hackathon-encourages-students-rethink-material-use-constru...
 
Description Preseantation at Second fib Italy YMG Symposium on Concrete and Concrete Structures 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation delived to conference attendees at the Second fib Italy YMG Symposium on Concrete and Concrete Structures, Rome, 18th-19th November 2021.

The presentation summarised the work in the conference paper "Carbonation depth measurement of concretes exposed to different curing and preconditioning conditions, using image-processing tools".

There were questions following the presentation, both in person and submitted to the author by email to be adressed afterwards.

The presentation and conference paper recieved an award for "Best research advances in concrete and concrete structures" at the conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://fibitaliayoung.it/index.php/2021/12/20/symposium-2021-vincitori-awards/
 
Description Presentation at fib Symposium 2021: Concrete Structures: New Trends for Eco-Efficiency and Performance 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation delived to conference attendees at the fib Symposium, Lisbon (online), 14th - 16th June 2021. The presentation summarised the work in the conference paper "An analysis of existing models for carbonation coefficient applied to tests under natural conditions". There was a question and answer session following the presentation, with questions posed by virtual atendees and the chairpeople of the conference session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.fib-international.org/publications/fib-proceedings/i-fib-i-symposium-in-lisbon,-portugal...
 
Description St Catharine's college Engineering Society presentation (Forsdyke) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact A presentation to the undergraduates, postrgraduates and academics studying Engineering at St Catharine's college. The presentation was titled "Using Image Processing and Analysis in Concrete Research" and focussed on the use of image processing techniques to give more information than traditional measurement methods. There was good engagement from the students and siginicant discussion following the presentation about the interdisciplinary nature of research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description St Catharine's college Engineering Society presentation (Forsdyke) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact An online presentation to the undergraduates, postrgraduates and academics at St Catharine's college. The presentation was titled "Improving Cement Efficiency in Concrete Elements" and described the problems of cement use in terms of embodied carbon, and the concept of tailored elements to improve this. There was good engagement from the students and siginicant discussion following the presentation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description St Catharine's college Graduates and Fellows research seminars (Forsdyke) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Jess Forsdyke gave a presentation entitled: "What's so hard about concrete?" to postgraduate students and academic fellows. This lead to interesting questions afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020