Construction materials could be far more durable in future as a result of research at a new £5.4M laboratory at Imperial College London’s civil and environmental engineering department.
Maintaining infrastructure such as roads and bridges currently takes up around 50% of the UK’s construction budget.
The Advanced Infrastructure Materials Laboratory will form part of the new Imperial Centre for Infrastructure Materials, where researchers will develop better construction materials that are more durable than materials used today.
Researchers at the centre, funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council, will focus on developing materials which are more robust, cost effective and easier to maintain.
“Construction materials underpin our whole society, but we are lagging behind in terms of developing them to meet the complex needs of our modern world,” said Imperial College department of civil and environmental engineering head and project lead Nick Buenfeld.
“These days materials need to last, be cost effective to make, but also need to be environmentally friendly and enable us to conjure up ever more effective and aesthetically pleasing structures. That is why our new centre is so important, because it will help to fill the research gap and enable us to develop materials that meet our complex construction needs.”
Currently materials like asphalt, concrete and steel are popular in construction even though they leave a large carbon footprint. For example concrete manufacturing contributes more than 6% of global carbon dioxide emissions from man-made sources.
Engineers will also look into integrating new types of construction materials with existing materials This could aid the development of cheaper and more adaptable ways of maintaining infrastructure.