Scientists at the Technische Universität Dresden/Germany have been developing an innovative composite material – “textile reinforced concrete“ – which is to serve for the structural reinforcement of buildings. For seven years now, more than 50 scientists from eight institutes have been collaborating in a research project entitled “Textile Reinforcements for Structural Strengthening and Repair“. The project has been funded by the German Research Foundation which has approved of the project’s third phase in June 2005, granting 1,5 million euros p.a.
The research team is made up of scientists from faculties of the Technische Universität Dresden as diverse as the Faculty of Civil Engineering, the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and the Faculty of Forestry, Geosciences and Hydrosciences but also from the Institute of Polymer Research e.V. The focus of the scientists has mainly been on the structural reinforcement of buildings with the help of textile reinforced concrete. The benefits of the new composite material are obvious: Concrete bears up under great pressure. However, since this is not true for tensile loads, the concrete has to be reinforced, using steel. Yet because of the steel’s tendency to oxidise it has to be covered with a concrete layer sufficiently thick so the oxidisation is prevented. As a consequence of construction, the combination of both concrete and steel creates a particular thickness corresponding with a certain weight. Because of this, experts have been trying for many years to use alkali-resistant glass fibres instead of steel in order to produce slim, light-weight and non-corrosive structures.
Textile reinforced concrete has been jointly developed by Professor Peter Offermann of the Institute of Textile and Clothing Technology and Professor Curbach of the Institute of Concrete Structures as well as other scientists at the TU Dresden. It could be ideally used for the structural strengthening of old buildings presumably reinforced with steel. However, the new compound has generated a lot of questions, for instance it has to correspond with safety standards necessary in civil engineering. Thus, the research project divides into 16 sub-projects each of which deals with detailed individual questions. The project is characterised by interdisciplinary cooperation. Frequently, work results raise novel questions and the general development impacts upon the research, too: “We partly change from glass to carbon because the price of carbon is getting more and more favourable nearly every day“ says Professor Curbach. Carbon shows a great strength and offers additional benefits with regard to the longtime characteristics important for buildings.
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