STTR Phase I: Building with Carbon: Improving Construction Materials with Nanocarbon Additives from Natural Gas

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is the improvements to the strength, durability, and longevity of concrete infrastructure and construction materials with novel graphene-rich carbon nanomaterial additives. Advancement of this technology area (advanced materials/nanomaterials for infrastructure applications) will directly reduce the costs of construction and maintenance ($165B/year in public spending) while supporting the nation's core economic activities ($14T/year in transported goods). The enhanced strength and longevity of nanocarbon coatings and concrete composites will reduce the amount of raw material required to meet specifications resulting in a net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (concrete production is responsible for 7% of global GHG emissions). The innovation will enhance scientific understanding of the effect of graphene-rich additives on the permeability and strength of concrete and coating composites using both advanced analytical techniques (x-ray tomography) and industry standard procedures (ASTM testing). It will also enhance understanding of the processing required (e.g. functionalization and dispersion) to integrate graphene-rich additives into polyurethane materials and concrete. Additionally, the project will help refine the plasma-based process conditions to produce carbon materials optimized for these applications.

This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I project will demonstrate enhancement of mechanical properties and impermeability of construction materials' concrete and concrete coatings using graphene-rich nanocarbon additives derived from microwave plasma conversion of natural gas. The permeability of concrete is its primary pitfall and is responsible for the two most common causes of failure: carbonation and chloride contamination. Sealants can extend concrete's lifespan but are expensive to apply and often deteriorate rapidly due to environmental effects (UV, chemicals, mechanical abrasion). Graphene additives can enhance the barrier properties and mechanical strength of concrete and sealants, but are currently too costly for construction and infrastructure applications. The objective of this project is to enhance the barrier and mechanical properties of concrete and sealants using a novel graphene-based carbon nanomaterial produced using a cost-effective, scalable, plasma-based process. Carbon nanomaterials will be produced at varied process conditions and, following post-treatment and functionalization, will be incorporated into polyurethane formulations and concrete mixtures. Water and chloride penetration into composites will be examined using advanced x-ray tomographic 3D imaging. Composites will undergo further testing in accordance with AASHTO/ASTM-standards. The anticipated results will establish the technical benefits of using graphene-based nanocarbon additives in concrete and sealants.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

StatusFinished
Effective start/end date6/15/198/31/21

Funding

  • National Science Foundation: $225,000.00

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