New findings could further development of stronger, most sustainable concrete using alternative materials. According to a recent Scientific Computing article, researchers from researchers NIST, the University of Strasbourg and Sika used the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility to simulate how a suspension would change if one or more parameters varied. They discovered that it's possible to make key predictions about the behavior of suspension based on "the microscopic shear rates that existed between neighboring particles."

So what does the science mean practically for concrete?

The results should help accelerate the design of a new generation of high-performance and eco-friendly cement-based materials by reducing time and costs associated with R&D, [National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) computer scientist William George] adds.

NIST is also using this new knowledge to create Standard Reference Materials for industrial researchers to calibrate concrete rheometers — instruments used to measure the flow of complex fluids — for material development. Ultimately, this could help expand the use of alternative materials. While it is not yet known whether these alternatives will fit the bill, the team’s research could eventually help industry researchers zero in on the best new recipes.

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