Embed an optimisation process which will improve existing concrete mixes
Embed an optimisation process which will improve existing concrete mixes and identify novel mixes to reduce cost and carbon footprint, without compromising quality.
The objective of this partnership was to enhance efficiency in pre-cast concrete production by
reducing energy costs and environmental impact through use of advanced materials eg self-compacting concrete and development of new products, such as pre-cast costal defence, retaining walls, box culverts.
Impact of Research
The recent recession caused a sustained downturn in the construction sector but despite this the company’s turnover has increased from the commencement of the project and its increased profitability has been contributed to by improvements in concrete technology and a profit-making heating system, namely the biomass boilers, which bring improved curing conditions, boost early age concrete strengths which led to increased factory throughput. There continues to be over supply in the precast industry, but demand will increase in the next number of years despite the unprecedented economic conditions. The primary focus was to differentiate the company from its competition by continued research and development and a continued partnership with the University. This is also reflected by the embedding of key knowledge for optimisation and robustness of self-compacting concrete mixes under this KTP. Key clients in the civil engineering profession now require precast concrete products with high durability, quality and surface finish; but this must be achieved by use of supplementary cementitious materials e.g. GGBS. The use of these materials can present difficulties on the production floor, which have been addressed by implementation of the knowledge brought into the Company from the Knowledge Base Partner.
Major grants and funding
Prof. Su Taylor (PI, QUB)
Dr M. Sonebi (Co-I, QUB)
Stephen Greer, KTP Associate
John Philip O’Hara
Sustainable Development Goals
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact. The improved working environment in the factory has directly impacted the production staff. Their personal health and wellbeing in the workplace has been improved. Greater ownership and understanding of their role within the company in being an important part of the team has improved the culture on the factory floor.
Use of SCC improves productivity through reduction of labour time and need for vibration of concrete. Improved surface finish out-of-mould reduces time of concrete finishing required.
The knowledge gained in reducing the carbon footprint by using self-compacting concrete which encapsulated waste materials and using less cement, this will be promote more sustainable development concrete products.
Find out more
Keywords associated with the Research
- Self-compacting concrete, rheology, waste materials, bio-mass
Further relevant info
J. Plasse, Msc Student from Unversity Auvergne, Clermont, France
Kwasny, J., Sonebi, M., Plasse, J., Amziane, S. “Influence of rheology on the quality of surface finish of cement-based mortars”, Construction and Building Materials Journal Vol. 89, 2015, pp. 102-109.