Our adventure through the Project SELMUS (H2020 | SME Instrument programme) focused on the development, testing and full-scale demonstration of a revolutionary floating platform made of UHPC to boost competitiveness of the mussel culture sector, has been the gateway to RDC participation in another project supported by European Comission inside the Research & Innovation Action (RIA) programme. A total of 14 different partners from different EU locations are involved in this new project entitled “Rethinking coastal defence and Green-Energy Service infrastructures through enhanced-durability high-performance fibre reinforced cement-based materials“. As could not have been otherwise, UHPC has a main role in this project. Do you want to know a little bit more about it? Do you want to follow the continuous project’s progress? Keep reading.
ReSHEALience is a global project carried out by 14 different complementary partners (2 industrial companies, 6 SME’s, 5 universities and 1 research institute) spread all over Europe to ensure the accomplishment of target objectives.
ReSHEALience is focused on the improvement of structures exposed to Extremely Aggressive Exposure, either chloride induced corrosion or chemical attack exposure, leading to their quick deterioration and lifespan reduction. This is the case of marine structures and infrastructures for geothermal/biomass energy plants, whose continuous maintenance (sometimes highly risky in remote applications) and retrofitting measures result in billions Euro spent each year. But, how much “improvement” shall we expect from this project?
- Increasing service life of structures by at least 30%
- Decreasing maintenance costs by at least 50%
These are quite ambitious objectives whose accomplishment calls for a deep research process in the following areas:
- Improvement of material durability properties (material level)
- New durability design criteria and service life evaluation (structural level)
- Full-scale prototypes and monitoring (technical feasibility)
- Business opportunities (economic, social and environmental feasibility)
In a previous post, we described the extreme durability requirements a cementitious material must accomplish to be considered UHPC. Those durability properties (chloride penetration, gas diffusion and water permeability) measure the passive protection that cement-based matrix offers against degradation in standard lab conditions.
What if we could go furher turning UHPC matrix into an active player capable of controlling, reducing, avoiding, or even healing, the structure degradation in real working conditions?
That is the first thing ReSHEALience pursues through multi-scale manipulation of UHPC microstructure and the incorporation of tailored micro- to nano- materials, such as nano-cellulose, nano-fibres or crystalline admixtures.
The introduction of these new functionalities in concrete will provide an improved material, better prepared to resist environmental aggressions. However, even if we had a zero porosity material, durability at structural level would always rely on a suitable design. Remember that one of the main roles of concrete is to protect steel rebars inside it (and also fibres in case of UHPC) !!
It is completely necessary to set up suitable design requirements in terms of maximum stresses, strains and crack opening according to environmental exposure, structure relevance, required service life and maintenance level.
ReSHEALience will provide suitable tools to predict and quantify durability and service life according to material functionalities and structural design which will be incorporated to structure design codes to make engineers work easier and foster innovation.
Being able to properly evaluate durability and service life of structures using high tech materials is completely necessary, as long-term cost analysis relies on their expected maintenance requirements and lifespan. It is a fact that conventional materials may be more competitive in the short-term. However, a suitable evaluation of the long-term structural behaviour may turn the tide in favour of new technologies and materials. Don’t forget that!!
Next question may be how to be sure that formulation proposed to evaluate long-term state of structures really works without waiting for 150 years? Here lies the third pillar of this project. To answer this question, ReSHEALience includes the construction of six pilots exposed to aggressive environmental conditions, in real working conditions and with continuing monitoring of its properties. Results from these pilots will be used to validate both (i) design criteria and (ii) durability prediction models.
Validating UHPC desgin criteria and durability models through six pilots: (i) Cooling tower basin; (ii) Mud collection basin; (iii) Damaged water tower; (iv) Floating platform for aquiculture; (v) Offshore wind floater; (vi) Breakwater elements
Don’t never forget that research for the sake of research is pointless and must serve to a higher purpose: ensuring a sustainable and better life of humankind on Earth (and one day also out of it). In this way, it can be said that research must lead to innovation.
With this purpose, potential application using developed technolgies throughout the project must also be feasible from an economical, social and environmental point of view. Using proper tools developed during ReSHEALience project, it will be possible to determine overall cost of the potential structures, including design, development, production, operation, maintenance and end of life of materials over their life cycle. Comparison to overall cost of conventional structures will be then possible to prove sustainability improvement o new solutions.
There is still something missing in this project: getting into the market. This is the last step of innovation; the last reason of the whole previous funding. Don’t worry cause everything is planned. ReSHEALience also deals with this, including the future strategy and business model definition, a detailed market analysis and suitable business plans for the selected potential products.
Get ready to leap into the market
Don’t you think it’s an amazing project? ReSHEALience purses excellence, with a high expected impact, alligned with Europe’s growth strategy, and a carefully planned implementation carried out by 14 high tech complementary partners. An amazing project which starts on January, 2018 and lasts for 4 years. We will continuously keep you posted on its progress. Do you want to follow it? Just follow us!!