In this research, concrete has been reinforced with different types of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to improve its microstructure (e.g. hydration products and porosity), mechanical properties (flexural and compressive strengths and moduli), fracture energy, toughness and ductility. Since de-agglomeration of CNTs and their dispersion within polymeric or cementitious matrices is a big challenge, a novel route of dispersion using a new type of surfactant has been employed to disperse different types of CNT in water and subsequently, within cementitious matrices. The influence of surfactant and CNT incorporation on various properties of the cement matrix (such as porosity, hydration behaviour, flexural and compressive properties and fracture toughness) has been thoroughly studied. Attempts have been made to develop a short and less energy intensive dispersion technique to make the process industrially viable.
Besides carbon nanotubes, concrete has also been reinforced by natural materials of nano/micro dimension such as nano/micro cellulose to improve the mechanical properties and ductility of concrete. Due to its excellent mechanical properties, non‐toxicity, renewability and low cost, nano/ micro cellulose can prove to be a sustainable reinforcement to develop high performance construction materials. Attempts have been made to improve the dispersion of nano/micro cellulose within cement matrix using different types of physical and chemical dispersion techniques. Also, the influence of nano/micro cellulose on various performance characteristics of concrete (microstructure, porosity, mechanical strength, stiffness, ductility, fracture toughness, durability, etc.) is being thoroughly investigated, in order to come up with a low cost and industrially viable processing technique to develop high performance concrete.
This project is being carried out within the framework of PhD studies of the researcher, Shama Parveen under the supervision of Professor Raul Fangueiro and the co-supervision of Professor Maria Conceição Paiva.