Summer is officially over... The weather is changing here in New England and, even though there is still plenty of fall to enjoy, the slight chill in the air is a reminder that winter is on the way. Before we know it, we will be sloshing to work on salt covered roadways.
While the salt helps to keep the roads ice-free and safe, it can actually cause serious damage to the road itself. Most of the salt is washed away but some of the salt-water mixture can actually be absorbed by concrete road surfaces. This causes the concrete to deteriorate and the steel reinforcement within the concrete to rust and corrode, which can cause big problems!
Fortunately, researchers at Brunel University in London are working on a new type of concrete that absorbs 64% less water and 90% less salt than normal concrete. This new type of concrete is also up to 42% stronger than normal concrete.
Mazen Al-Kheetan, a PhD and lead researcher on the project, explains, “Incorporation of a sodium acetate compound into concrete, at the mixing stage, works on absorbing some of the water to form crystals that line the walls of the pores in the concrete...These crystals increase the hydrophobicity of the concrete – the amount concrete repels the water – which ensures the reduction of water uptake through the pores...Also, when applying de-icing salt to pavements made from this concrete mix, the presence of the protective compound within the pores work on fending off both the water and the waterborne chlorides.”
This new concrete mixture is still undergoing testing but if it works, the researchers believe the new formulation will offer significant cost savings while being stronger and safer for road construction.
Developing materials that can withstand exposure to salt will always pose engineering challenges that require much testing, especially when these materials are used in large scale construction. Corrosion, whether on roadways, buildings, or other infrastructure can cause major safety issues. Associated Environmental Systems manufactures clear, acrylic salt spray chambers designed to meet the strict demands of many common automotive and military test specifications.
For more information about Associated Environmental Systems salt spray chambers, click HERE. You can also contact one of our expert representatives by clicking HERE or click the chat-box to the right of this page.