Researchers at Solidia Technologies, have started marketing a potential game changer to concrete producers. Their new process may help rewrite our industry’s talking points regarding sustainability, while increasing durability and service life of concrete products. If successful, the role of CO2 may be reversed from foe to key partner.
Using an exclusive licensing agreement with Rutgers University as its core, Solidia scientists have focused on incorporating their process into cement manufacturing. Now they are focusing on precast concrete producers. The application is best-suited for no-slump products such as pipe, blocks, and pavers.
Solidia research scientist Deepak Ravikumar says the search for a commercially viable method to use CO2 in curing has lasted almost 50 years. Researchers predicted that CO2-treated concrete could be more durable and provide greater service life with recipes requiring less batch water.
For precast producers, introducing this new production technology is relatively easy. There is no change necessary in the batching, casting, pressing, or cubing activities. The only difference is that the producers use Solidia cement as its binding ingredient. The proprietary liquid is introduced best in the curing process.
The Solidia Concrete process simply uses CO2, rather than water, during curing. Their scientists call this new patented curing process “reactive hydrothermal liquid phase densification.”
During curing, producers inject CO2 in the curing area that penetrates into the pores between the Solidia Cement particles. It reacts with the Solidia Cement to create “bridges” between the particles to lock them into place. The chemical reaction between the Solidia materials is similar to the reaction that occurs when water reacts with portland cement to bind sand and aggregate particles that constitute conventional concrete.
Field studies of the process at precast plants verified several potential benefits:
- Curing can be accelerated without concerns of detrimental factors such as ettringite formation.
- Decreased water use.
- More economical mix designs, as over-strength recipes can be adjusted without product damage concerns during curing.
- Greater flexibility for performance mix designs, as concrete can be designed for compressive strength, abrasion resistance, efflorescence, and freeze-thaw cycling resilience that are equal to, or better than, that of conventional concrete.
The Federal Highway Administration has supported Solidia with a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to examine infrastructure applications at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory has co-funded a four-year research and development project as part of its CO2 Storage Program. Long-term research continues at Rutgers, and collaborative errorts are underway in laboratories at Purdue University, Ohio University, and the University of South Florida.