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Rebuilding concrete – Sanchez to help lead $6.7 million Hong Kong research project

Posted by on Wednesday, August 15, 2018 in News.

The Hong Kong Research Grants Council, which is equivalent to the U.S. National Science Foundation, has awarded a $6.7 million, five-year grant to a multi-university team of experts in materials science, chemistry, civil engineering, material deterioration, complex modeling, and other specialties.

Florence Sanchez, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Vanderbilt School of Engineering, is a co-Principal Investigator – one of nine and the only one who is not Chinese – and an expert in molecular dynamics simulation of composite materials. In all, about two dozen specialists from eight countries are involved.

“This has huge implications,” Sanchez said.The impact could be huge – concrete is the second most-used substance in the world, behind water. Concrete production is resource-heavy, both in raw materials and costs to transport them. Fresh water and river sand or crushed stone fines already are scarce in marine, island and coastal communities, where the steel used to reinforce traditional concrete erodes more quickly.

The key challenge for the researchers is to understand and predict the life-cycle behavior of structures made from seawater-sea salt concrete and fiber-reinforced polymer composites, or FRPs. They also will develop a life-cycle design methodology based on multi-scale physics modeling of material and structure degradation that includes accelerated lab tests in controlled environments and field exposure tests over a limited period.

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