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Composite testing gets concrete results

Composite materials have made their impact upon a great many industries. Considering their improved performance features they impart, it is surprising to learn that in the construction industry, they are only now making themselves felt. Part of the delay has been caused by the lack of universalised construction standards.

Industrial Technologies

In order to establish the behavioural patterns of composite materials in construction, one first needs to identify and understand the behavioural patterns of regular current building materials. To this effect, a round-robin testing scheme was established to help evaluate young maturing concrete under a variety of test conditions and parameters in particular with reference to their thermal-mechanical properties. The ultimate goals were to compile a comparative and standardised reference guide and to develop an expert system/material database. Based on comprehensive understandings of materials, construction types and the various forces that can cause critical failure, understanding concrete and predicting its behaviour has now become a far more accurate and reliable process. On of the objectives attained during the project was the compilation of the Expert/System Materials Database. The database is the receptacle of all test results conducted in the project containing extensive information on more than 100 concrete mixes. In addition to the database, several other aspects of the project materialised. One important factor being the realisation that further understanding of the relationship between material properties and microstructure is needed. To enhance this understanding new experimental techniques were developed within the IPACS project for developing advanced materials knowledge. A more profound understanding of material properties and their microstructure helps in defining concrete properties with greater accuracy and reliability. Other factors developed were neural networks as well as an expert system for a knowledge based module. The neural networks adopted were highly accurate, capable of calibrating cracking resulting from thermo-viscoelastic and thermo-elastic influences. The expert system comprises computer programmes based on deterministic models and numerical procedures, offering quick validated information at the pre-design phase that augments effective decision making well in advance. Our understanding of composite building materials, while advancing towards a better world of construction, has with this technology been made that much more concrete.

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