Graphene specialists at The University of Manchester and Nationwide Engineering have developed graphene-enhanced concrete to revolutionise the concrete industry
In a world-first for the sector, the team has laid the floor slab of a new gym in Amesbury, Wiltshire with graphene-enhanced ‘Concretene’, removing 30% of material and all steel reinforcement.
Depending on the size of onward projects, Nationwide Engineering estimates a 10-20% saving to its customers.
The production of cement for concrete in the building industry is one of the leading causes of global carbon dioxide emissions.
The addition of tiny amounts of graphene strengthens Concretene by around 30% compared to standard RC30 concrete, meaning significantly less is needed to achieve the equivalent structural performance.
‘Game-changing, graphene-enhanced concrete’
“We are thrilled to have developed and constructed this game-changing, graphene-enhanced concrete on a real project,” said Alex McDermott, co-founder and managing director of Nationwide Engineering, who is also a civil engineering graduate from Manchester.
“Together with our partners at The University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre and structural engineers HBPW Consulting, we are rapidly evolving our knowledge and experience and are positioned for wider industry deployment through our construction frameworks, becoming the go-to company for graphene-enhanced concrete.”
Nationwide Engineering has three existing five-year construction frameworks with Network Rail and two seven-year Government Crown commercial building frameworks. With Network Rail committing to an 11% reduction in CO2 emissions over the next four years, graphene-enhanced concrete shows significant potential to help meet this target.
Rolled out across the global building industry supply chain, the technology has the potential to shave 2% off worldwide emissions.
Concretene can be used just like standard concrete, meaning no new equipment or training is needed in the batching or laying process, and cost-savings can be passed directly to the client.
Dr Craig Dawson, application manager at the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, commented: “We have produced a graphene-based additive mixture that is non-disruptive at the point of use.
“That means we can dose our additive directly at the batching plant where the concrete is being produced as part of their existing system, so there’s no change to production or to the construction guys laying the floor.
“We have been able to do this via thorough investigation – alongside our University colleagues from the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering – of the materials we are using and we can tailor this approach to use any supplier’s graphene, so we are not beholden to a single supplier,” he added. “This makes Concretene a more viable proposition as there is increased security of supply.”
At Amesbury, an initial pour of 234m2 of Concretene was conducted on site on 6 May, with a further 495m2 laid on 25 May to complete the concrete floor slab. The graphene used for the pour on 25 May was supplied by Versarien plc.
Nationwide Engineering will manage and monitor the site during its fit-out and onward operation.