Civil Engineers Find New Recipe For Concrete: High Performance Mix To Be Used In National Showcase Bridge

May 28, 1997

Cincinnati -- The University of Cincinnati College of Engineering is helping the Ohio Department of Transportation plan a showcase bridge in east central Ohio to demonstrate the improved strength and durability of a unique high-performance concrete mix developed at UC. The bridge is one of eight in the country being built under a special Federal Highway Administration program to bring new technology into common use.

"It's an opportunity to take recent government research and put it into a practical application that we hope will improve bridges in the United States," said Richard Miller, associate professor of civil engineering at UC.

The high-performance concrete (HPC) allows the production of longer beams for the bridge. The original design used normal concrete and required three separate spans set on top of piers. With HPC, a single span can be constructed across the entire creek.

"With the material and the design we're using for this particular bridge, we're able to eliminate the piers which would have been sitting in the water, collecting debris," said Michael Baseheart, associate professor of civil engineering. "Piers have increased maintenance costs asociated with clearing away the debris."

Tests have demonstrated that the UC-designed concrete mix is significantly stronger than conventional concrete. "The strength of the concrete came out to be between 10-12 thousand pounds to square inch, which makes it approximately three times as strong as sidewalk concrete and twice as strong as normal bridge concrete," according to Miller.

The UC engineers also conducted a wide range of durability tests on the concrete used in a sample beam. "We've done some fatigue tests, subjecting the beam for one million cycles (simulated truck loads)," said associate professor Bahram Shahrooz.

"We pushed it to where the code said it would be fail, but it did not fail. It bounced back. We couldn't actually collapse it," noted Miller.

Based on their test results, Miller believes bridges made with the high performance concrete beams could last for up to 80 years without requiring major maintenance. That's because the denser material keeps road salt away from the reinforcing steel inside. The material is also more resistant to freeze-thaw cycles, a common road-killer in temperate climate zones.

"In Cincinnati for example, you might get 20 cycles of freeze- thaw each year. The concrete we've developed has been through 300 simulated freeze-thaw cycles without any problems."

In addition to the cost benefits of the single span design and reduced maintenance costs, there is also a benefit to the local community where bridges are built. "A lot of steel gets imported," noted Miller, "but all concrete is made locally. You can't import concrete, so it's definitely a local job-producing kind of thing."

The formal contract for the new bridge near Cambridge, Ohio will be let this summer, and a final round of tests will be run on another sample beam at Prestress Services in Melbourne, Kentucky this June. Information on creating the high-performance mixes and producing extra-long concrete beams will be shared with contractors and transportation officials nationwide.

The project is funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration's Strategic Highway Research Program.

University of Cincinnati

Related Engineering Articles from Brightsurf:

Re-engineering antibodies for COVID-19
Catholic University of America researcher uses 'in silico' analysis to fast-track passive immunity

Next frontier in bacterial engineering
A new technique overcomes a serious hurdle in the field of bacterial design and engineering.

COVID-19 and the role of tissue engineering
Tissue engineering has a unique set of tools and technologies for developing preventive strategies, diagnostics, and treatments that can play an important role during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Engineering the meniscus
Damage to the meniscus is common, but there remains an unmet need for improved restorative therapies that can overcome poor healing in the avascular regions.

Artificially engineering the intestine
Short bowel syndrome is a debilitating condition with few treatment options, and these treatments have limited efficacy.

Reverse engineering the fireworks of life
An interdisciplinary team of Princeton researchers has successfully reverse engineered the components and sequence of events that lead to microtubule branching.

New method for engineering metabolic pathways
Two approaches provide a faster way to create enzymes and analyze their reactions, leading to the design of more complex molecules.

Engineering for high-speed devices
A research team from the University of Delaware has developed cutting-edge technology for photonics devices that could enable faster communications between phones and computers.

Breakthrough in blood vessel engineering
Growing functional blood vessel networks is no easy task. Previously, other groups have made networks that span millimeters in size.

Next-gen batteries possible with new engineering approach
Dramatically longer-lasting, faster-charging and safer lithium metal batteries may be possible, according to Penn State research, recently published in Nature Energy.

Read More: Engineering News and Engineering Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to