One of the most frequent material that has been used for construction is concrete. Concrete is one of the most reliable material for making concrete dams, concrete bridges and other infrastructures in the world. However, not all concrete is durable as cracks may produced after a while or even break at a certain point of time due to the compression stress. So, the solution for this problem is to use a new type of concrete called bendable concrete.
Bendable concrete is a concrete that has been reinforced with micromechanically designed polymer fibers. This breakthrough and revolutionary innovation were developed in the early 1990s by Victor Li, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the university of Michigan. Bendable concrete is also known as Engineered Cementitious Composites or ECC for short. ECC is produced using the similar essential ingredients as a regular concrete, but the mixture has been added with High-Range Water Reducing (HRWR) agent to reduce the water consumption and also polyvinyl alcohol. Polyvinyl alcohol is able to enhance the flexibility of the concrete. Thus, making it bendable.
Bendable concrete is mainly used for building roads and bridges. By advantaging the flexibility of the concrete’s structure, it has no need for joints such as expansion joint and contraction joint when building roads and bridges. The flexibility of the concrete has the ability to manipulate its shape so that it will adapt into the bridge’s shape. Furthermore, the roads and bridges are more durable and has low repair cost compared to a regular concrete. Other than that, it can also be used as a concrete canvas which is commonly used in the military areas.
The advantages of using ECC or bendable concrete is that the concrete’s structure is more flexible, lighter (about 20 – 40 % lighter) and has more resistance to cracking compared to a regular concrete. It also has a self-healing property, meaning it can heal itself with the help of carbon dioxide and water from rains. Not only does it have self-healing abilities, but it also does not emit harmful gases that is produced when making a regular concrete. By using the bendable concrete as a material for infrastructures, it can reduce and eliminate the use of steel reinforcements. Therefore, it can potentially reduce the cost of the project itself.
However, like other materials the bendable concrete also has its disadvantages. Even though it can reduce the total price of the project, bendable concrete does have high initial cost compared to a regular concrete. It also requires skilled and experienced labor for its construction. Bendable concrete’s quality depends on the special materials used and the current condition under which it’s made. Some special type of materials is also difficult to acquire in several areas.
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