New design means cheaper, more sustainable construction

Mar 03, 2009
Dr. Sami Rizkalla explains that by testing the new concrete beam design to see how much weight it can bear, researchers have determined that it can handle two to three times the maximum weight it would be expected to bear. Credit: David Hunt

People are always looking for ways to make something less expensive and more environmentally friendly - and a team of researchers from North Carolina State University has figured out how to do both of those things at once when raising the large-scale buildings, such as parking garages, of the future.

More specifically, the researchers have figured out a way to use 30 percent less reinforcing steel in the manufacture of the concrete beams, or spandrels, used in the construction of parking garages - without sacrificing safety. Dr. Sami Rizkalla, one of the leaders of the research team, says they developed design guidelines that use less steel while maintaining safety and reliability. The new spandrel design "simplifies construction for precast concrete producers," Rizkalla says. In addition to using less steel, the new design cuts labor and manufacturing time in half - significantly decreasing costs.

Greg Lucier, a doctoral student at NC State who was also crucial to the research effort, says the new design guidelines include a significant margin for safety. For example, Lucier says the spandrels could handle two to three times the maximum weight they would be expected to bear. Lucier is also the lab manager of the Constructed Facilities Laboratory at NC State, which oversaw the testing of the new spandrel design.

The new design guidelines stem from a two-year project that was launched in January 2007, with support from the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI). PCI provided NC State with more than $400,000 in funding, materials and technical support over the life of the project.

The success of the project is already drawing interest from the concrete industry, with individual companies coming to NC State to get input on how to improve their products and manufacturing processes. For example, Rizkalla says, many companies want to collaborate with researchers at the Constructed Facilities Laboratory on research and development projects related to new materials, such as advanced composites, to be used in concrete products.

While researchers have published some elements of the research project, they will present an overview of the entire project - including new testing data - for the first time at the spring convention of the American Concrete Institute in San Antonio this month.

Source: North Carolina State University

Explore further: Scientists trial system to improve safety at sea

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers develop permeable pavements for Nordic conditions

Jan 14, 2015

In co-operation with industrial partners, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd has developed permeable pavements to reduce the problems caused by storm and runoff water in urban areas. The project also aims to prepare ...

Building better bridges with geosynthetics

May 09, 2014

(Phys.org) —As the road leading up to a bridge presses down on the soil beneath its surface, the bridge tends to remain higher than the roadway, creating a problem that has menaced drivers and road engineers ...

Futuristic look at artworks of the past

May 06, 2014

Anyone interested in art conservation knows very well how the devil is in the details. Restoring or preserving paintings, ceramics or sculptures has become an art in itself, one that requires knowledge, patience ...

Proposed Mars 'Icebreaker' mission detailed

Apr 18, 2014

Scientists supported by the Astrobiology Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP) and Astrobiology Instrument Development Programs (ASTID) have outlined the proposed 'Icebreaker' mission to Mars in a recent ...

Good risk communication, safer food

Feb 11, 2014

Food scare make authorities uneasy. In previous cases, national food safety agencies have not always known how to react, making the public wary. For example, in 2011, the German health authorities incorrectly ...

Building blocks to safer buildings

Jul 04, 2013

Precast or ready-made building structures offer a number of advantages when compared to more traditional construction techniques, in terms of time and cost savings. However, the vulnerability of joints and ...

Recommended for you

Scientists trial system to improve safety at sea

Jan 30, 2015

A space scientist at the University of Leicester, in collaboration with the New Zealand Defence Technology Agency and DMC International Imaging, has been trialling a concept for using satellite imagery to ...

Skin device uses motion to power electronics

Jan 29, 2015

Can a skin patch power wearables? Skin-based generators have become an area of focus among researchers working on how to scavenge muscle motion whereby skin becomes a charge-collector. A detailed report in ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.