Scientists from the Nanyang Technological Institute, Singapore have invented a new type of concrete that has bendable properties along with high strength and durability.
Developed by NTU Singapore scientists working at the NTU-JTC Industrial Infrastructure Innovation Centre (I³C), the new type of concrete called Conflexpave is stronger and longer lasting than regular concrete.
The new bendable concrete product is expected to facilitate the creation of slim precast pavement slabs for quick installation, thus reducing by half the time needed for road works and new pavements. Being more sustainable, Conflexpave requires less maintenance.
NTU Professor Chu Jian, Interim Co-Director of the NTU-JTC I³C, said the new type of concrete can greatly reduce the thickness and weight of precast pavement slabs, enabling speedy plug-and-play installation, where new concrete slabs prepared off-site can easily replace worn out ones on-site.
Mr Koh Chwee, Director, Technical Services Division of JTC and Co-Director of the NTU-JTC I³C, said that the invention of this game-changing technology will not only enable the construction industry to reduce labour intensive on-site work, enhance worker safety and reduce construction time, but also benefit road users by cutting down the inconvenience caused by road resurfacing and construction works.
He added that JTC hopes to pioneer cutting-edge industrial infrastructure solutions through collaborations with universities such as NTU in research and development of disruptive technologies, to address various challenges faced by Singapore including manpower and resource constraints.
CONFLEXPAVE BENDABLE CONCRETE
Conflexpave is specifically engineered to have certain types of hard materials mixed with polymer microfibres, which not only allow the concrete to flex and bend under tension, but also enhance skid resistance.
According to Asstistant Professor Yang En-Hua from NTU’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering who led this research at the NTU-JTC I³C, understanding how the components of the materials interacted with one another mechanically on a microscopic level, was a key breakthrough.
Yang explains that 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, resulting in concrete that is tough as metal and at least twice as strong as conventional concrete under bending.
Conflexpave has been successfully tested as tablet-sized slabs at NTU laboratories. It will be scaled up for further testing over the next three years in partnership with JTC at suitable locations within JTC’s industrial estates and in NTU where there will be human and vehicular traffic.