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New technologies to maintain bridges and other concrete structures

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  6. New technologies to maintain bridges and other concrete structures

New technologies to maintain bridges and other concrete structures

Summary

Over a period of 20 years, Professor Mangat and colleagues in the Materials and Engineering Research Institute (MERI) have developed significant expertise of concrete materials related to their deterioration, repair and maintenance. This expertise has been developed in a variety of ways including commercial software systems for bridge and asset management and commercialisation of two of Mangat's research innovations, alkali activated materials (AAMs) and low voltage accelerated curing systems (LOVACS). As these technologies focus on extending service life and avoiding demolition, they save tens of millions of pounds to clients and the wider society while also contributing to sustainability. These commercialised projects have achieved direct sales of £0.5m and enabled partners Mott Macdonald to win commissioned corrosion-remediation works of over £1m.

Our research

Professor Mangat's original research on deterioration remediation of concrete led to the development of corrosion protection (CP) systems with Dr Paul Lambert, Technical Director of Mott MacDonald. Other EU funded collaborative research with industry led eventually to the development of two technologies: alkali activated materials (AAMs) and low voltage accelerated curing system (LOVACS).

AAMs use inorganic alkali material to activate waste-derived reactive powders, cutting CO2 emissions associated with standard hydraulic cement production. Mangat developed formulations of AAMs, characterised the key parameters governing properties such as strength and durability, and developed admixtures to control AAM setting time and shrinkage. Subsequent industrially-sponsored research determined methodologies by which to exploit the excellent adhesive properties of AAMs to offer both protection and strengthening to concrete structures. AAMs proved to be fire resistant at temperatures exceeding 1100oC, significantly out-performing cement-based or polymer-modified materials.

The other innovation, LOVACS, is a novel conductive polymer heating technology which speeds up curing to in-situ repairs and to concrete construction in general, especially in cold weather. LOVACS was initiated through a Teaching Company Scheme (TCS) awarded to Inditherm Plc and Mangat's group at the University in 2003, with follow on work supported by EPSRC and EU grants. It proved possible to optimise LOVACS curing parameters for the production of a range of in situ and precast concrete curing industrial systems. On the basis of their discovery, an international patent was granted in 2005 to Mangat and the TCS associate Dr Catley. Mangat's research activity in this field continues through an EU grant to improve the quality of concrete repairs using a novel low energy accelerated microwave curing system.

We worked closely with Prof. Mangat's Centre for Infrastructure Management at SHU over a number of years. The in depth technical knowledge provided by them was extremely important to us and we found their input involving accelerated curing of concrete invaluable. Our cooperation is a good example of Yorkshire industry working with regional academia to create world class innovative products.
Nick Bettles, CEO Inditherm plc.

The impact

In collaboration with Research Engineers Ltd, a bridge management software was produced based on Mangat's research. It was licenced by the University to the spin-out Infrastructure Asset Management (IAM) Ltd in 2004 to commercialise this software. The software implements key models and equations from Mangat's research to determine optimum maintenance, inspection and repair cycles for bridges. IAM has now become a leading provider of infrastructure asset management software and consultancy. Its Bridge Management Xpert (BMX) system is the market standard for bridge management in the UK, with a client base including over 30 local authorities.

Mangat's expertise of repair, maintenance and management of bridges has also been intrinsic to the development of a professionally accredited course adopted by the UK Bridges Board for the training of all present and future bridge inspectors in the UK.

Mangat's research has also led to the licencing of AAMs and LOVACS. AAMs have been successfully licenced to two companies: Liquid Granite Ltd concentrates on AAMs' fire retarding applications, and sales include construction materials for the 2012 Olympic village; C-Probe Systems Ltd focuses on repair and corrosion protection of reinforced concrete structures trialled at Leeds Civic Hall and a building in Kansas City. LOVACS, developed in collaboration with Inditherm Plc, has been employed in a number of constructions, including the Heathrow Terminal 5 Car Park.

The underpinning research on CP systems in collaboration with Lambert has made Mott MacDonald a leading international provider of durability enhancement and corrosion remediation solutions to the built infrastructure sector. Recent commercial projects using these systems include 85 Fleet Street, London, the Severn Bridge and Battersea Power Station.

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