Thu, 28 Sep 2023

Innovation is one of the crucial building blocks of the modern world we live in. Construction activities are at an all-time high in the 21st century and the architecture materials industry is one that holds enormous potential in terms of innovation. Development in this space can very well be regarded as one of the true markers of mankind's evolution.

As of late there have been many emerging technologies and trends in terms of architectural materials such as translucent wood, self-healing concrete, light-emitting concrete, air-purifying bricks and the lot. Another technology that is relatively new and is still being explored is called UHPC or Ultra High-Performance Concrete.

What is UHPC?

UHPC or Ultra High-Performance Concrete is a new class of concrete that has been developed in recent decades for its exceptional properties of strength and durability. UHPC has a compressive strength 10 times that of traditional concrete. Normal concrete used in bridges has a compressive strength of 3,000 to 5,000 psi. UHPC has a compressive strength of 18,000 to 35,000 psi. Looking at another measure of strength i.e. tensile strength, traditional concrete sits at 400 - 700 psi of tensile strength, while UHPC sits at about 1400 psi.

(Compressive strength is the ability of a material to resist bending under a load; tensile strength is how strong a material is when you pull it)

UHPC also exceeds expectations in the department of durability in comparison to traditional concrete by surreal margins. The Federal Highway Administration (US Dept of Transportation) says that the mechanical and durability properties of UHPC make it an ideal candidate for use in developing new solutions to pressing concerns about highway infrastructure deterioration, repair, and replacement.

Other benefits include:

  • Reduced self-weight of the structure due to thinner elements.
  • Fewer materials required for construction.
  • Creates less waste upon demolition, hence, good for the environment.
  • Lower material cost compared to conventional concrete.
  • Reduces energy consumption by 50% compared to conventional methods.

What Goes Into Creating this Super Concrete

UHPC is a cementitious composite material composed of an optimized gradation of granular constituents, a water-to-cementitious materials ratio less than 0.25, and a high percentage of discontinuous internal fiber reinforcement. Ultra-high performance concrete has a discontinuous pore structure that reduces liquid ingress, significantly enhancing durability compared to conventional and high-performance concretes.

Being so intricately complex in its DNA, the ability to manufacture UHPC may as well be regarded as a super skill. One that is not easy to come by. Proliferating the extent of this super concrete, a project engineer from India is working wonders to ensure the success of architectural precast concrete projects in the USA.

Aditya Yadav, a mechanical engineer with expertise in Structural and Material Science, is involved in cutting-edge technology related to UHPC. His remarkable skill and knowledge of material sciences coupled with his expertise in UHPC technology make him one of the few people capable of manufacturing this type of concrete today.

On one of his projects at STABIL, his team collaborated with experts of this field and achieved a concrete mix design - a flowable UHPC mix, that is stronger and lighter than conventional precast concrete, while being aesthetically pleasing.

UHPC manufacturing solutions carry a preposterous ratio of facilitation to desirability. The kind of solutions that engineers like Yadav (of which there are few) are capable of providing, directly impacts global infrastructure development, particularly in education, hospitals, and residential availability.

At present, UHPC is being considered for use in a wide variety of highway infrastructure applications in the USA. The high compressive and tensile strengths allow for the redesign and optimization of structural elements. This new generation of concrete is redefining how we approach architecture, at the most fundamental of levels.

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