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476660-00011-1 Report Abstract

Assessment of the Potential of Using Carbon Nanotubes Reinforcements for Improving the Tensile/Fexural Strength and Fracture Toughness of Portland Cement Paste for Damage Resistant Concrete Transportation Infrastructures

Rashid K. Abu Al-Rub and Bryan M. Tyson, Texas A&M University, September 2010, 153 pp. (476660-00011-1)

The focus of this study was on exploring the use of nanotechnology-based nano-filaments, such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and nanofibers (CNFs), as reinforcement in improving the mechanical properties of Portland cement paste as a construction material. Due to their ultra-high strength and very high aspect ratios, CNTs and CNFs have been used as excellent reinforcements in enhancing the physical and mechanical properties of polymer, metallic, and ceramic composites. Very little attention has been devoted to explore the use of nano-filaments in the transportation industry. Therefore, this study aimed to bridge the gap between nano-filaments and transportation materials. This was achieved by testing the integration of CNTs and CNFs in ordinary Portland cement paste through state-of-the-art techniques. Different mixes in fixed proportions (e.g. water-to-cement ratio, air content, admixtures) along with varying concentrations of CNTs or CNFs were prepared. Different techniques commonly used for other materials (like polymers) were used in achieving uniform dispersion of nano-filaments in the cement paste matrix and strong nano-filaments/cement bonding. Small-scale specimens were prepared for mechanical testing in order to measure the modified mechanical properties as a function of nano-filaments concentration, type, and distribution.  With 0.1% CNFs, the ultimate strain capacity increased by 142%, the flexural strength increased by 79%, and the fracture toughness increased by 242%.  A scanning electron microscope (SEM) was used to discern the difference between crack bridging and fiber pullout.  Test results showed that the strength, ductility, and fracture toughness can be improved with the addition of low concentrations of either CNTs or CNFs.


Keywords: Carbon Nanotubes, Carbon Nanofibers, Cement, Dispersion, Fracture, Nano Reinforcements

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 10.7 MB)