New concrete product claims to be more earthquake resistant AND more sustainable

Concrete is a really amazing building product that provides strength and protection, particularly when reinforced with steel, or when combined with various admixtures. Unfortunately, concrete is extremely costly to produce in terms of its environmental impact.

By some accounts, concrete production results in the release of a ton of carbon, for every ton of concrete. For that reason, researchers are constantly looking at ways to improve concrete’s sustainability while still benefitting from its contribution to more resilient structures and assemblies.

To that end, researchers at the University of British Colombia have developed a novel new cementitious concrete-like product that has some amazing properties. ArchDaily’s Patrick Lynch has more:

Called EDCC (eco-friendly ductile cementitious composite), the material is engineered at the molecular level to react similarly to steel – with high strength, ductility and malleability. When sprayed onto the surface of traditionally poured interior concrete walls, it reinforces against seismic intensities as high as the magnitude 9.0-9.1 earthquake that hit Tohoku, Japan in 2011.

“We sprayed a number of walls with a 10 millimetre-thick layer of EDCC, which is sufficient to reinforce most interior walls against seismic shocks,” says Salman Soleimani-Dashtaki, a PhD candidate in the department of civil engineering at UBC. “Then we subjected them to Tohoku-level quakes and other types and intensities of earthquakes—and we couldn’t break them.”

Combining cement, polymer-based fibers, fly ash and other industrial additives, EDCC is also surprisingly environmentally-sustainable – nearly 70 percent of the cement required in traditional formulas is replaced with fly ash, a prevalent industrial waste product.

Here’s a video: