Bendable Concrete That is Tough as Metal

August 19, 2016

Scientists from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have invented a new type of concrete called ConFlexPave that is bendable yet stronger and longer lasting than regular concrete which is heavy, brittle and breaks under tension.

ConFlexPave can be made into slim precast pavement slabs for quick installation. NTU Professor Chu Jian said, “We developed a new type of concrete that can greatly reduce the thickness and weight of precast pavement slabs, hence enabling speedy plug-and-play installation, where new concrete slabs prepared off-site can easily replace worn out ones.” NTU said that new technology will reduce labor intensive on-site work, enhance workers’ safety and reduce construction time.

How bendable concrete works

Typical concrete comprises cement, water, gravel and sand. While this mixture makes concrete hard and strong, it does not promote flexibility. Traditional concrete is brittle and prone to cracks if too much weight is applied.

ConFlexPave is specifically engineered to mix polymer microfibres with hard materials, allowing the concrete to flex and bend under tension.

"The key breakthrough is understanding how the components of the materials interact with one another mechanically on a microscopic level," said Asst Prof Yang En-Hua from NTU’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “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. The result is concrete that is tough as metal and at least twice as strong as conventional concrete under bending.”

ConFlexPave will be further tested over the next three years at locations with human and vehicular traffic.

Source: Nanyang Technological University