After Texas thawed from the extreme winter storms in early 2021, many of us saw extensive damage to roads. Driving to work on a busy street became even more challenging as we tried to avoid giant cracks and holes in the street. Many people think snowplows caused the damage. There are very few snowplows in Texas. Many had to come from other regions to help with storm relief. So where did all the damage actually come from? The answer is water.
Extreme temperature changes can affect concrete in detrimental ways. Concrete is a rigid porous material. When water fills the open spaces in concrete and freezes, the water expands and causes the material to break. When the water thaws, it drains from the material but leaves behind damage. This is called freeze-thaw damage.
A Solution from Nature
A recent online article from Science Daily discusses the inspiration to look at nature to provide a solution to more durable concrete in freezing conditions. A research team from Colorado University – Boulder discovered that freeze-thaw damage is lessened when a molecule based on “natural antifreeze” found in plants and animals was included in concrete.
Minimizing the effects of freeze-thaw damage will have a significant impact on the durability of new infrastructure. Roads and other man-made structures such as dams and levees could greatly benefit from this new material additive.
Innovation at OEI
Innovation is key to advancing the field of engineering. O’Brien Engineering, Inc. begins every project mindful of continuous improvement. With a past of successful projects and extensive experience, we are still mindful of the future and how we can firmly pursue personal, professional, and corporate improvement. We strive to be current on the newest and most environmentally sustainable materials and practices. By keeping pace with engineering trends, OEI provides our clients with high-quality and cost-effective solutions that will last.