Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Better construction materials for better buildings

As building structures become larger and more complex, improved materials are needed to meet ever more demanding performance standards.
Better construction materials for better buildings
High-performance concrete should be able to boast properties such as strength, high workability, dimensional stability and long durability in service. The advantages afforded by these properties have resulted in the use of higher cement contents and more admixtures in cementitious products. This is especially true for self-compacting concrete (SCC) and dry product pre-mixes. However, the raw material and production costs of cementitious products are increasing unabated.

Optimised microcomposite holds promise as a commercial product for manufacturing high-performance mortars and concretes. Investing in these products can drastically enhance the competitiveness of companies by reducing raw material costs and driving turnover, whether as producers or as end users of micro filler composites.

The 'New economical and ecological solutions to reduce raw material costs of cement based products by utilising micro technology' (Microcon) project aimed to drive down raw material costs and improve the technical properties of cementitious products by developing a waste-based micro filler composite for the concrete industry. The EU-funded project approached fresh and hardened concrete in this way with a view to optimising the microstructure of cementitious products and reducing the need for high cement and admixture amounts.

During the mix design process, project partners focused on developing micro filler composites and related product applications, including the optimisation of mix designs and analysis influence of microcomposite in the products. The project's mix design phase began with a series of tests on microcomposite samples of two producers. The work entailed theoretical and practical study of various amounts and types of micro fillers in various product applications, including tests with fresh and hardened products. Studies included identifying usability limits for microcomposite with varying mix designs, while tests examined durability and long-term ageing, particularly as related to microstructures of the products.

Initial tests indicated that using an optimised amount of ultrafine micronised fly ash for cement replacement improved the performance of fresh concrete and its long-term performance. Test results with SCC revealed that the use of microcomposite can enhance the properties of fresh concrete and improve on long-term strength, robustness and durability.

Brick tile mortar tests showed that microcomposite can improve the compressive strength of mortars. Tests with cement-based rock grouts proved that microcement can be used to replace up to 80 % with micronised industrial by-product or recycled material: it maintained excellent workability properties, strength development and final strength.

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