Saturday 4th Dec, 2021

Boral and UTS launch sustainable concrete research project

Boral and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have formed a five-year partnership to accelerate the research, development and commercialisation of low carbon concrete.
Image: Anna Zhou

Boral, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Southern Highlands Concrete Constructions have launched a new research project to develop advanced technology for manufacturing, placing and curing sustainable concrete.

The two-year project aims to overcome the current technological barriers of low-carbon concrete manufacturing and accelerate development of Boral’s lower carbon concrete.

It is co-funded by Boral and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), with both organisations investing $770,000 as part of an overall $6 million investment.

Low carbon concrete uses supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) such as ground granulated blast-furnace slag, fly ash and calcined clay as binders, instead of ordinary Portland cement (OPC). OPC is a major contributor to carbon emissions after fossil fuels.

The percentage of SCM in low-carbon concrete products has been limited to 50 per cent to ensure blended concrete meets set workability, durability and strength requirements without specialised high-temperature curing schemes or the use of highly alkaline activators.

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Boral General Manager – Innovation Development Louise Keyte says that Boral’s ambition is to accelerate its research into new binders and develop the next generation of ENVISIA concrete.

“We want to push low carbon boundaries even further while maintaining the practical properties of regular concrete,” Keyte said.

The project team will be led by UTS’ Vute Sirivivatnanon, with core research to be undertaken at the UTS Boral Centre for Sustainable Building at UTS Tech Lab in Sydney.

Researchers will develop and test new ultra-sustainable concrete and evaluate the effectiveness of proposed manufacturing approaches to tackle strength development and improve surface finishing techniques.

“Our aim is to push the technological boundaries of binder and chemical admixture technology and lift the maximum replacement rate of OCP while maintaining the fresh and early hardened properties of concrete for optimum construction efficiency,” Sirivivatnanon said.

“In addition, all durability properties critical to the achievement of design life for concrete structures will be optimised to deliver truly sustainable building.”

Following lab-testing, Southern Highlands Concrete Construction will trial the concrete on construction sites.

Southern Highland Concrete Constructions Managing Director Benjamin Clarke said low-carbon concrete will be the future of the construction industry.

“We are excited to be part of this project, sharing our expertise and techniques to make sure this next generation of low-carbon concrete achieves its desired strength and durability, and can be deployed cost-effectively.”