WKU civil engineering student presents research on concrete
- WKU News
- Thursday, October 22nd, 2020
WKU civil engineering major Andrew Iglehart has a rock solid research project – concrete.
Iglehart presented Low Carbon Content Concrete: A Roman Empire Approach to Concrete virtually on Oct. 6 during the inaugural International Conference on Low Carbon Cement and Concrete.
The senior from Versailles has been researching the lowering of carbon emissions for cement and concrete since the manufacturing and production of Portland cement produces 8 percent of all carbon emissions.
“I stumbled upon the longevity of Roman concrete,” Iglehart said. “Modern concrete has an average lifespan of a hundred years, but Roman Era concrete has lasted thousands of years.”
In his paper, Iglehart discusses the process and makeup of cement developed in the Roman era and the importance of further research.
“Roman concrete survives in salt water conditions, and modern concrete can't survive in that environment,” Iglehart said. “It is concluded that the Romans used volcanic ash in their concrete as the ‘secret ingredient.’ When mixed with salt water, volcanic ash creates aluminum tobermorite which adds to the strength of the concrete,” he said. “With excess volcanic ash in the concrete, the salt water will increasingly make the concrete stronger. This then makes the concrete have its longevity.”
Iglehart also noted the creation of cement hasn't changed much in the past few thousand years, but the main component is the kiln. Modern kilns operate at approximately 1,450 degrees Celsius, and Roman kilns operated at 900 degrees Celsius. “This massive decrease in temperature could reduce modern carbon emissions, and with the volcanic ash, the concrete could be more waterproof,” he said. “The main issue with Roman concrete is that their concrete took 180 days to fully set up, and modern concrete takes 28 days. A combination for both modern and Roman concrete could be a major benefit and breakthrough for the environment and the concrete industry.”