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Australian Firm Touts Conductive Concrete

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

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An Australia-based advanced material technology company announced Monday (June 25) that it has developed a formulation of graphene-enhanced concrete that has shown high degrees of electrical conductivity.

Talga Resources Ltd. says initial testing of its concrete at its graphene-graphite research and development lab in the U.K. showed such high levels of conductivity, “it can act like the heating element of an electric stove,” according to managing director Mark Thompson.

Conductive concrete
Talga Resources Ltd.

Talga notes that the electrically conductive concrete could be layered beneath thermally conductive concrete on roads to convey heat to the surface and melt ice and snow, eliminating the need for salts that often corrode steel structures like bridges.

Graphene is an atom-thin, super-strong carbon material that exhibits an anticorrosive and lubricant properties; it has recently been commercialized for coatings use as its production continues to be refined.

Conductivity Breakthrough

Testing of the graphene-laced cement showed about 20 million times the conductivity of a standard mortar used as a control, according to the company. Talga says the results show their formulation is much more efficient in its conductivity than past attempts at conductive concrete—using magnetite, graphite and other metal and carbon materials—have been.

The secret, according to the company, is a mix of graphene and other products, including graphite and what it calls a “silica-rich by-product of ore processing.”

“The conductivity is achieved with a very low loading of our graphene, but a larger amount of ore processing by-products, providing maximum potential for the most cost effective, scalable and eco-friendly development options,” Thompson said.

Possible applications for the conductive graphene concrete include installation under floors as an alternative to hot-water piping used for heating, and installation under roadways and runways to heat them in winter. Talga notes that the electrically conductive concrete could be layered beneath thermally conductive concrete on roads to convey heat to the surface and melt ice and snow, eliminating the need for salts that often corrode steel structures like bridges.

Other Research

Recent research out of the University of Exeter showed that concrete laced with a graphene dispersion was twice as strong as traditional concrete, and four times as water-resistant. Supporters say graphene-reinforced concrete mixes could come with environmental benefits, as less concrete would be needed to achieve the same strength, and therefore concrete production, a major producer of greenhouse gases, could be reduced.

Talga says it will continue testing as it brings its mix to potential production partners.

   

Tagged categories: concrete; Graphene; Nanotechnology; Research and development

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