MIT Developing Concrete That Lasts For 16,000 Years

MIT Developing Concrete That Lasts for 16,000 Years1

Civil engineers at MIT are currently developing a new breed of concrete that will be able to last for 16,000 years. Concrete is one of the most frequently used and widely produced man-made building material on earth, with over 20 billion tons produced per year globally. The use of this new ultra high density concrete will have enormous environmental implications, given its ability to deliver lighter, stronger structures capable of lasting many civilizations, while drastically decreasing the carbon emissions sent into the atmosphere by its inferior predecessor.

One of the inventors of the new material, Franz-Josef Ulm offers, ‘More durable concrete means that less building material and less frequent renovations will be required.’ Ulm, alongside Georgios Constantinides successfully designed this long lasting concrete, with significantly reduced creep, (the time-dependent deformation of structural concrete), by increasing its density and slowing its creep by a rate of 2.6.

‘Finally, we can explain how creep occurs,’ said Professor Franz-Josef Ulm. ‘We can’t prevent creep from happening, but if we slow the rate at which it occurs, this will increase concrete’s durability and prolong the life of the structures. Our research lays the foundation for rethinking concrete engineering from a nanoscopic perspective.’

‘The thinner the structure, the more sensitive it is to creep, so up until now, we have been unable to build large-scale lightweight, durable concrete structures,’ said Ulm. ‘With this new understanding of concrete, we could produce filigree: light, elegant, strong structures that will require far less material.’

With regard to environmental impact, the annual worldwide production of concrete creates between 5 and 10% of all atmospheric CO2. Ulm explains, ‘If concrete were to be produced with the same amount of initial material to be seven times normal strength, we could reduce the environmental impact by 1/7. Maybe we can use nanoengineering to create such a green high-performance concrete.’

The ultra high density concrete could deliver exponential results both in terms of strength and durability, and is undoubtedly poised to redefine architects’ relationship with man’s most reliable building material while literally changing the face of the earth.

More: web.mit.edu.




19 Responses to “MIT Developing Concrete That Lasts For 16,000 Years”

  1. thegnu says:

    >>Ulm explains, ‘If concrete were to be produced with the same amount of initial material to be seven times normal strength, we could reduce the environmental impact by 1/7.

    Yeah, because the only determinant of environmental impact is the amount of initial material goes into something. Not that we shouldn’t be excited, but it’s misleading.

  2. Andy says:

    I don’t know if this makes sense, but well, at least it could be used for a nuclear waste storage facility that needs to last 10000 years.

  3. Jerrrie says:

    sounds like a great product. what will the next 160 generations do? nothing to do but breath clean air. I think the emissions are a bit over stated.

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  4. Caleb says:

    With regard to environmental impact, the annual worldwide production of concrete creates between 5 and 10% of all atmospheric CO2.

    Sorry if I simply can’t believe that. Perhaps with an added “produced by humans” at the end, I could begin to believe it, but that still sounds like a pretty high percentage…and a pretty wide estimate, too. 5% of emissions produced by humans is quite a bit, if you think about it…

  5. Kunal says:

    cool.. but if 16,000 years is the headline and that is a factor 2.6 then concrete today would last 5700 years – already longer than the history of the existence of the material.

    So upgrading existing infrastructure to support this? That would annihilate any environmental benefit that would be gained.

    Doesn’t sound green to me.

  6. riddly says:

    oh great…..appaling buildings and redundant spaces that will last and last….

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  10. Mike O'Brien says:

    It’s my impression that most concrete structures that are demolished and replaced have not reached the end of their service life, rather, the end of the economic life. The concrete Kingdome wasn’t demolished because of structural failures, rather it was considered inadequate for sports teams and fans. So I have to ask, what difference would it make if the concrete lasted 16,000 years? Humans will have removed it long before then.

    • Seth says:

      Wrong, the king dome wasn’t demolished because of bad fans or a bad team or else they wouldn’t have built safeco to hold more fans. At the time of demolition they said that the king dome was not structural failing just like you said, it was architecturally failing. Particularly the building’s ability to withstand a large earthquake, which would kill pretty much everyone inside if it happened during a game. Otherwise it would have been made a historical landmark, and almost did despite the demolition request. Get your facts right if you plan on posting your opinion online, the internet is already full of enough bs.

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