The concrete manufacturing industry adopts some very wasteful and antiquated practices. The use of steam curing in precast concrete plants, for example, is a health and safety hazard, produces poor working conditions and makes inefficient use of energy produced by non-renewable fossil fuels. Similarly deficient practices are used on construction sites in winter, eg open flame gas or oil heaters are used to prevent freezing of concrete in the formwork. In cold regions, construction activity is often avoided in the winter which is very uneconomical. Insulated formwork can also be used which provides poor control of curing temperature. Eventual disposal of formwork requires the removal of the chemical insulative coatings with solvents or by burning which causes an environmental hazard. The project aims to transform these inefficient, uneconomical and unsafe practices by developing a novel thermal curing system for concrete based on the recently developed core technology of a unique conductive polymer coating material which has many potential applications. The conductive polymer coating applied to a flexible fabric produces a low resistance material which provides uniform heat distribution without localised hot spots. Typically the elements operate at 24 V to provide highly controlled temperature profiles up to 120 degree C, using very low power input compared with traditional systems which typically operate at 240 V. The objectives are: Develop the novel technology for curing concrete, establish performance characteristics and develop energy efficient accelerated curing systems for precast concrete, thermal formwork for cold weather concreting and thermal covers to prevent frost attack in winter concreting. Design and test prototypes of thermal moulds, formwork and covers and derive optimum operating parameters. The hi-tech thermal curing systems promise a clear market leadership to the SME proposers.
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeCooperative - SMEs-Co-operative research contracts