UHPC – Ultra-High Performance Concrete – is another concrete innovation that could be a game changer when it comes to repairing aging infrastructure in the U.S. Embedded with steel fibers, ultra-high performance concrete is about five to 10 times stronger than standard concrete, but the current cost makes it out of reach for most government projects. The video shows how that could all change.
According to UHPC Solutions, “is a new class of concrete that has been developed in recent decades for its exceptional properties of strength and durability. This high performance concrete can be utilized in structural rehabilitation and accelerated bridge construction in addition to several other applications. Read on to learn more about the history of UHPC, its composition and applications.”
They also state:
-The material has a projected 100-year life span with exceptional strength, durability, flexibility and longevity.
-UHPC has a compressive strength 10 times that of traditional concrete.
-While UHPC’s strength is impressive, it’s durability further exceeds expectations. UHPC has properties similar to hard rock.
-Freeze/thaw resistance: UHPC exhibited 100% of its material properties after 600 freeze/thaw cycles
-UHPC showed extremely low chloride migration when tested, less than 10% the permeability of normal concrete.
-UHPC demonstrates excellent abrasion resistance, nearly twice as resistant as normal concrete.
UHPC was featured on PBS Newshour on February 12, 2020. The segment was titled, “This super strong concrete could repair aging bridges. Here’s what’s standing in the way.”
What is standing in the way is – of course – cost. This segment explores the research that is being done to significantly lower the cost of production.
The reporting was done in Iowa, where – in 2006 — the first UHPC bridge was built.
Since then, “UHPC has now been used in bridge projects in 28 other states and the District of Columbia, but mostly on a small scale. One of the main reasons? Cost. Traditional concrete is roughly $100 per cubic yard. Commercially available UHPC costs about $2,000 to $3,000 a cubic yard.
“UHPC’s current price tag makes it unaffordable for most government-funded infrastructure projects, but researchers around the country and here in Iowa are now working to bring those costs down.”
The researchers are also looking at how UHPC can be used to repair existing bridges. The findings are very positive, in that patching with UHPC has been successful in terms of extending the life of existing infrastructure.
The report concludes with the news that, “Iowa is planning 14 new UHPC Bridge projects for the coming year, and Iowa State engineers hope to have their less expensive mix ready in the next year or two.”
That is great news for the millions of Americans that every day cross one of the 47,000 bridges that are in dire need of repair.
The link below will take you the the video report and transcript.