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Thu June 24 2021

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Graphene enhanced concrete used in Amesbury gym

27 May A joint venture between graphene specialists at the University of Manchester and construction firm Nationwide Engineering has developed a product that could change the world of concrete.

Concretene has been used for the floor of the new Southern Quarter gym in Amesbury’s Solstice Park
Concretene has been used for the floor of the new Southern Quarter gym in Amesbury’s Solstice Park

Supported by the university, Nationwide Engineering has laid the floor slab of a new gym in Amesbury, Wiltshire with graphene-enhanced 'Concretene', removing 30% of material and all steel reinforcement.

Depending on the size of onward projects, Nationwide Engineering estimates a 10-20% saving to its customers.

The addition of tiny amounts of graphene strengthens Concretene by around 30% compared to standard RC30 concrete, meaning significantly less is needed to achieve the equivalent structural performance.

Graphene acts a mechanical support and as a catalyst surface for the initial hydration reaction, leading to better bonding at microscopic scale and giving the finished product improved strength, durability and corrosion resistance.

Crucially, Concretene can be used just like standard concrete, meaning no new equipment or training is needed in the batching or laying process, and cost-savings can be passed directly to the client.

At Amesbury, an initial pour of 234m2 of Concretene was conducted on site on 6th May, with a further 495m2 laid on Tuesday 25th May to complete the concrete floor slab. The graphene used for the pour on 25th May was supplied by Versarien plc.

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The new Southern Quarter gym in Amesbury’s Solstice Park, owned and run by military veterans, is due to open this summer. Nationwide Engineering will manage and monitor the site during its fit-out and onward operation, effectively making the gym – itself a carbon-neutral proposition – a ‘living laboratory’ to measure and evaluate the performance of the material.

Graphene@Manchester team on-site in Amesbury (l-r): Craig Dawson, Happiness Ijije, Lisa Scullion
Graphene@Manchester team on-site in Amesbury (l-r): Craig Dawson, Happiness Ijije, Lisa Scullion

Dr Craig Dawson, application manager at the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, explained: “We have produced a graphene-based additive mixture that is non-disruptive at the point of use. That means we can dose our additive directly at the batching plant where the concrete is being produced as part of their existing system, so there’s no change to production or to the construction guys laying the floor.

“We have been able to do this via thorough investigation – alongside our University colleagues from the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering – of the materials we are using and we can tailor this approach to use any supplier’s graphene, so we are not beholden to a single supplier,” he added. “This makes Concretene a more viable proposition as there is increased security of supply.”

Alex McDermott, co-founder and managing director of Nationwide Engineering, said: “We are thrilled to have developed and constructed this game-changing, graphene-enhanced concrete on a real project. Together with our partners at the University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre and structural engineers HBPW Consulting, we are rapidly evolving our knowledge and experience and are positioned for wider industry deployment through our construction frameworks, becoming the go-to company for graphene-enhanced concrete.”

The Amesbury project has been funded by Nationwide Engineering, Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund’s Bridging the Gap programme as a joint venture with The University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) and Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE).

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