Researchers at the University of Exeter have developed a new technique that uses nanoengineering technology to incorporate graphene into traditional concrete making it more than twice as strong and four times more water resistant than existing concretes while significantly reducing carbon emissions.
To make the concrete, the research team suspended flakes of graphene in water, then mixed that water with traditional concrete ingredients such as cement and aggregate. The researchers say that the process is inexpensive and compatible with modern, large-scale manufacturing requirements.
The graphene-enhanced concrete was found to have a 146% increase in compressive strength as compared to regular concrete, a 79.5% increase in flexural strength and an almost 400% decrease in water permeability. The material meets British and European standards for construction.
The inclusion of graphene in the concrete allows for a reduction of about 50% of other materials used. This factor should result in a 446 kilogram per tonne reduction in emitted CO2.
in addition, the increased strength and water resistance should allow structures made with the concrete to last much longer than would otherwise be possible – reducing the need to replace them and, consequently, the need to manufacture more concrete, which is a major source of CO2.