The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) at The University of Manchester was the venue for the latest act of pioneering work in using advanced materials in construction to promote sustainability in the sector.
Nationwide Engineering, Tier 2 partners of the GEIC, re-laid parking bays on the service road adjacent to the Centre earlier this month, using its graphene-enhanced Concretene product as a ‘living lab’ to test performance in exterior conditions.
These tests will hopefully help promote the development of standards and certification for Concretene to enable roll-out to the wider building industry supply chain.
In May, Nationwide Engineering undertook the first pour of Concretene in a commercial setting at the Southern Quarter gym in Amesbury, Wiltshire.
“Now we are exploring the use of Concretene in road and pavement design to provide a concrete with a higher wear resistance, lower water porosity to prevent frost and salt damage and an increased wear resistance," said Rob Hibberd, director of Nationwide Engineering. "This will provide a longer life-span to the road and require less maintenance.”
The University welcomed guests from the Greater Manchester policymaking community, including representatives from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and MIDAS, Manchester’s inward investment agency.
Attendees watched the pour and then took part in a discussion session afterwards in the GEIC on the potential for Concretene to deliver significant benefits in the race to achieve net-zero. Concrete production currently accounts for 8-10% of worldwide CO2 emissions.
Tim Newns, CEO of MIDAS, said: “It was a really exciting morning outside the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre in Manchester – the home of graphene – where we saw the first outdoor pouring of Concretene. From a low-carbon, net-zero or environmental perspective, this product could be a real game changer.”
Graphene for the pour was provided by GEIC Tier 1 partner Versarien, offering further evidence of the collaborative approach to projects through Graphene@Manchester's partnership model, one that enables rapid scale-up and route-to-market for engineering applications using 2D materials.
James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester, added: “It was great to continue to build on our partnership with Nationwide Engineering and other GEIC partners in undertaking a further graphene concrete pour outside the GEIC... We were pleased to welcome key stakeholders from across government and Greater Manchester and will continue to collaborate on how graphene can support the sustainability challenge and move towards net-zero. This will lead to further exciting developments over the coming months and towards the acceleration of a key graphene application and in the creation of a supply chain based in Greater Manchester.”
Graphene provides sustainability benefits by producing denser, stronger concrete, which allows for the removal of approximately 30% of the volume of material used and removal of all steel reinforcement from the floor slab, while achieving comparable or improved performance to standard concrete. This enables reductions both in carbon footprint and in cost for users.