Concrete to end natural disaster?

According to Yahoo!News, in Indonesia's East Java province, engineers have been dropping concrete balls into a volcano oozing hot mud. The mud was stimulated when the energy firm PT Lapindo Brantas pierced an underground chamber of hydrogen sulphide. More than 15,000 people have fled from their homes due to the ominous peak.

In order to halt the flow, which has overtaken entire villages, experts hope that about 375 chains of concrete balls, weighing 880 to 1100 pounds, dropped into the 165-foot mud hole will do the trick. Two cranes have been erected on both sides of the crater to drop the chained concrete. The project's aim is to slow mud-flow at least 50%, but there is still no evidence that the experiment will indeed work.

Termite a concrete risk?

In Malaysia, the military is in the throws of battle with an unusual enemy, reports The Associated Press. Termites have plagued the countries 80 army bases—attacking the camps in record numbers. The pests not only gnaw on wood structures but have been found attacking the concrete sections of buildings. Personnel will be appointed to find a solution for the problem.

The nano in concrete technology

As an aim to cut carbon-dioxide emissions of cement production, researchers have been investigating the nanostructure of the main ingredient in concrete, according to Technology Review. Recently at MIT, researchers made a discovery that could result in decreased carbon-dioxide emissions. After looking at the building blocks that make up concrete, they found that the particles are just a few nanometers in size and are arranged in two distinct manners. What this all means for lower carbon-dioxide emissions is the hope that a replacement cement can be formulated that maintains the original structure but can be manufactured in a different way.

Researchers also have looked into calcium-silicate-hydrate—finding the arrangement to be similar to oranges packed in a box or piled in a pyramid form at a grocery store. One idea for a “new” cement is to substitute magnesium for calcium so it requires less heat to make cement but still result in the same structure as the calcium-silicate-hydrate nanoparticles.

Carbon dioxide is released during cement manufacture because fuel is burned at temperatures of 1500º C to heat a powdered mixture of limestone and clay. Accounting for 5% to 10% of all anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide—a leading greenhouse gas involved in global warming—this research could make a difference on our impact on the environment.

Technology performs

As architects and builders look for sustainable solutions and new ways to work with concrete, it is more important than ever to understand innovative products. This spring, concrete industry professionals can gain a competitive edge by attending the 2007 Concrete Technology Forum: Focus on High Performance Concrete. Concrete Construction, The Concrete Producer, and Public Works magazines are among the sponsors of the symposium, which will take place May 22–24 at the Fairmont Dallas Hotel.

The 2006 Concrete Technology Forum on pervious concrete sold out, with more than 300 attendees.
The 2006 Concrete Technology Forum on pervious concrete sold out, with more than 300 attendees.

The symposium provides a venue for researchers, contractors, and product manufacturers to discuss state-of-the-art advances, technical knowledge, continuing research, and techniques to optimize high-performance concrete. “Our Research, Engineering, and Standards committee selected high-performance concrete as the focus of this year's Concrete Technology Forum because of its interest in promoting the use of performance-based specifications through the P2P Initiative,” says Lionel Lemay, senior vice president of technical resources at the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA). “P2P stands for 'prescription to performance' specifications for concrete, and the committee felt that high-performance concrete was the ideal application for introducing the performance-based specification concept.” The forum will feature technical sessions and presentations, a product expo, and a high performance concrete demonstration.

Over the course of three days, 17 technical sessions will be geared toward concrete producers, engineers, architects, contractors, and material suppliers with an interest in high-performance concrete. Attendees will benefit from more than 50 presentations by nationally renowned researchers and practitioners, with topics including: self consolidating concrete, ultra fast track construction, extended service life, and performance specifications and testing.

Participants will be eligible to earn up to 19 professional development credits, depending on the number of sessions attended. NRMCA, a registered continuing education provider with the American Institute of Architects—Continuing Education Systems (AIA-CES), will provide certificates of completion for the total number of professional development hours and/or learning units completed.

In between sessions, 24 exhibitors will be in the product expo area to answer questions and provide information about products and services for high-performance concrete applications.

At the end of the symposium, attendees are invited to a high-performance concrete tour and demonstration, led by Richard Szecsy of Lattimore Materials Co. and Bob James of the Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association. The tour will provide a hands-on look at high-performance projects in the Dallas area. For detailed information about, visit the forum,

CONEXPO Asia 2007 breaks records


With nine moths to show opening, CONEXPO Asia 2007 already has surpassed exhibit space sales from last year. The show will take place December 4–7, 2007 at the Chinese Export Commodities Fair (CECF) Pazhou Complex in Guangzhou, China. Featuring leading Chinese companies, as well as non-Chinese exhibitors, the show connects attendees to the latest technologies, equipment, products, and services for the construction industry in the China and Asia-Pacific marketplace. To learn more about the show, check out .