ISS Astronauts are Studying Concrete in Microgravity

International Space Station“It is no longer a question of if we will need to colonize other planets, but a question of when,” says Alexandra Radlińska, assistant professor of civil engineering at Penn State University.

In order to give future space colonists a “concrete advantage,” Penn State researchers are collaborating with astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) to study concrete in microgravity.

Concrete is strong and durable enough to offer protection from meteorites and cosmic radiation.

What’s more, it may actually be possible to make concrete from materials that are already available on other planets, including Mars.

In order to take advantage of concrete’s potential for use in infrastructure on other planets, the research team is studying how cement, an important ingredient in concrete, solidifies when it’s not subject to gravity.

Once the team has a better understanding of how traditional, Earth-based cement solidifies in microgravity, they’ll begin exploring how to create concrete using materials indigenous to Mars.

Ultimately, the results of these studies could help determine how to create habitable structures on Mars and other planets.

The research has Earthbound implications, too. Studying the solidification of cement could help improve the environmental sustainability of Earth-manufactured concrete. Concrete is the most widely used building material on the planet—with 10 billion tons produced each year—meaning that even small improvements in its manufacturing process can have a major impact.

If you’re looking for high-quality concrete here on Earth, look no further than Bergen Mobile Concrete. We’ve been delivering concrete to customers throughout Northern New Jersey using metered mobile mixers since 1990. Call us today at (201) 797-7550 to learn more.

Dutch Architects Flood Proof Homes With Buoyant Concrete Foundations

Amsterdam HomesFlooding events are expected to become increasingly common in the coming years, according to the UK Climate Projections 2018. Over the next decade, hotter summer temperatures, rising sea levels and more extreme weather events such as flash floods will necessitate creative solutions in housing.

Dutch architects may have found one such solution by using buoyant concrete foundations to flood-proof homes.

The new houses don’t have conventional foundations anchoring them to the ground. Instead, they have air-filled concrete bases that allow them to float.

Some of the houses are designed to float all the time. They can be joined together to form floating communities that sit on top of a lake—an innovative solution to the housing shortages that plague some countries.

Other houses are amphibious. These are designed to sit on solid ground most of the time, but are able to float in the event of flooding. In the event of a flood, this feature could save homeowners thousands of dollars, as they will no longer need to make expensive foundation repairs after the water recedes.

Currently, the technology is expensive. Flood-proof houses cost about 20% more to build than conventional houses. However, they can be built on floodplain land, which tends to be cheaper, offsetting some of the cost. As the technology becomes more prevalent, the price may drop over time.

If you’re looking for high-quality concrete, look no further than Bergen Mobile Concrete. We’re proud to deliver concrete to customers throughout to Northern New Jersey using state-of-the-art mobile concrete mixers. Give us a call at (201) 797-7550 today to learn more!

Australian Engineers Use Polymer Rebar to Reinforce Concrete

RebarDid you know that modern concrete bridges require maintenance about once every five years, and major rehabilitation every 20 years? That’s true now, but a new type of rebar could change that in the future.

A team of engineers at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia has developed an experimental polymer rebar to reinforce concrete and improve its lifespan.

Steel rebar is typically embedded within concrete structures to give them support. However, the rebar rusts over time, and eventually the rust takes up more space than the original rebar. Rusted steel begins to push against the surrounding concrete, leading to an issue called spalling, where the concrete cracks and falls away from the main structure, thereby weakening it.

The Australian team, led by Dr. Mahbube Subhani and Dr. Kazem Ghabraie, developed a non-rusting rebar made of glass fiber-reinforced polymer and carbon. According to the engineers, the new type of rebar is stronger than steel rebar at just one-fifth of its weight.

The new rebar is also more environmentally friendly, since it requires only a quarter as much energy to manufacture.

In the Australian city of Geelong, the polymer rebar will soon be used in the construction of a pedestrian bridge. According to the Deakin University researchers, the bridge will not require any maintenance during its planned century-long lifespan. The bridge will also use eco-friendly concrete that is made using fly ash from coal combustion. Traditional cement production is a significant source of man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

If you need high-quality concrete, look no further than Bergen Mobile Concrete. We deliver concrete to the residents of Northern New Jersey using state-of-the-art mobile concrete mixers. Give us a call today at (201) 797-7550 to learn more.

What Makes Concrete the Ideal Material for a Patio Surface?

Concrete Patio If you’re thinking about upgrading your home with a patio installation, you’re probably deciding between several different materials, including concrete, wood and paving stones. At Bergen Mobile concrete, we think concrete is the ideal material for a patio surface. Here’s why:

You’ll Enjoy It for Years

With basic maintenance and proper installation, your concrete patio can last for 30 years or more. Concrete stands up to cold temperatures, snow and rain. Unlike wood, it won’t rot or splinter, and unlike paving stones, it’s less likely to shift and need readjusting.

It’s Low-Maintenance

All you need to do to maintain your concrete patio and keep it looking nice is seal it and give it a good cleaning once every year or two. No constant touch-ups needed, so sit back, relax and enjoy your concrete patio!

You Can Choose Your Style

Concrete is also an incredibly versatile material. With stamping patterns, it can imitate brick, stone or tile. Jazz it up with geometric patterns, or stain it in a wide variety of solid colors or blended patterns—the choice is yours!

Save on Installation Costs

Concrete is one of the most economical patio materials on the market. Your design choices can increase your costs, but on average it costs $15 per square foot to install a concrete patio deck—compared to $33 per square foot for a wooden patio—according to Houselogic.com.

Need some high-quality concrete for your patio? Our metered mobile mixers can deliver fresh concrete right to your door. Plus, you’ll never pay for more than you need. To get started, give us a call at (201) 797-7550 today!

Hawaii DOT Tests New Carbon-Injected Concrete Mix

Concrete PavingIn an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of road construction, the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) is testing a new carbon-injected concrete mix.

To test the mix, HDOT will pour about 4000 cubic feet of the carbon-injected concrete mix next to the same amount of standard concrete mix. The test will take place on an access road for the second phase of the Kapolei Interchange.

By comparing the two mixes side by side, HDOT will be able to establish specifications for the use of carbon-injected concrete in future road projects.

The carbon-injected concrete mix is made by Island Ready-Mix Concrete. The company mixes waste carbon dioxide from Hawaii Gas into the concrete using CarbonCure technology. This process traps the carbon dioxide in mineral form within the concrete, enhancing the material’s overall strength.

According to HDOT, the quantity of concrete poured in the demonstration will save about 1500 pounds of carbon dioxide. The demonstration alone will offset the carbon dioxide emissions of approximately 1600 miles of highway driving. If the carbon-injected concrete mix is more widely used, the environmental impact will be even greater.

Elemental Excelerator, a Hawaii-based startup accelerator, is supporting the project. Aki Marceau, managing director of Elemental Excelerator, says: “We are proud that Hawaii is looking at sustainable building practices to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

Hawaii Governor David Ige is glad to see his state taking the lead on sustainable road construction as well.

“As the daily baseline measurement for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere reaches the highest level in modern history, it is especially important for all of us to do all we can towards ensuring a sustainable Hawaii for future generations,” said Ige in a recent statement.

Need some high-quality concrete at a price you can afford? Bergen Mobile Concrete specializes in providing top-of-the-line concrete to homes and businesses throughout Northern New Jersey using metered mobile mixers, so you’ll never pay for more than you need. Give us a call at (201) 797-7550 today to learn more.

How to Plan and Prepare for a Concrete Patio Installation

Concrete PatioThinking about installing a new concrete patio so that you and your family can enjoy spending more time outside this summer? This is a great idea, but it’s important to do some preliminary planning before you start pouring concrete. You can start designing your new patio with the suggestions below!

Figure out where you want the patio to go.

There are probably a few different places where you might install a concrete patio on your property. Many people like to put their patio in a place that’s not too far from their kitchen, especially if they like to entertain guests. You might also want to install your patio adjacent to an exterior door so that you can shade it with a retractable awning.

Determine how big the patio is going to be.

Your concrete patio can be as big or as small as you want it to be, depending on the size of your family and the amount of outdoor furniture you have. If your yard is relatively small, however, an especially large patio might overwhelm other features of your property. Ideally, your new patio should complement your existing landscaping efforts rather than distracting from them.

Obtain the proper permits.

Before installing a concrete patio, you’ll need to make sure you have the necessary permits from your local city or town. The permitting process can vary from town to town, so check with your local building department to find out exactly what you need to pour a new patio on your property. If you haven’t done this type of work on your own in the past, consider recruiting the help of a professional paving company as well.

Get your concrete from a reliable source.

Once you’ve planned out your patio and found an experienced installer, it will be time to schedule your concrete delivery. At Bergen Mobile Concrete, our metered mobile mixers are designed to make sure you never have to pay for more concrete than you need. Plus, our concrete is made fresh for each job so you can get the best possible results.

To learn more, or to schedule your next concrete delivery, feel free to give us a call at (201) 979-7550 today!

MIT Designers Create Huge Concrete Blocks That Can Be Assembled by Hand

StonehengeVisit just about any construction site today and you’ll see cranes hoisting large slabs of concrete into place. However, cranes haven’t always been around, and for thousands of years human beings moved large stones by hand.

Matter Design, a Boston-based company directed by MIT professor Brandon Clifford, recently collaborated with the multinational building materials company Cemex to explore ancient methods of moving heavy stones, while developing a brand-new way to move concrete slabs by human hands alone.

Matter Design studied how ancient architecture was built, analyzing Stonehenge and the archeological sites of Easter Island. They then developed a project called Walking Assembly, a set of interlocking concrete puzzle pieces that can be assembled into a solid wall and staircase in just 15 minutes.

Each piece is 5 feet tall and weighs between 926 and 1,543 pounds. The designers also used to different densities of concrete in the blocks. While they’re definitely too heavy for a human being to lift, they can be “walked” into place. Cleverly applying their knowledge of physics, the designers manipulated each block’s center of mass so that the blocks naturally move along their curved bottoms. Assembling the pieces requires very little human energy, since gravity and the pieces’ varying densities do most of the work.

Walking Assembly has real-world applications. Imagine if, instead of having to demolish concrete structures, they could be easily disassembled and reconstructed, with no expensive equipment or landfills required. The project could ultimately help engineers find cheaper, easier ways to build complex structures.

Need some high-quality concrete for your next project? At Bergen Mobile Concrete, we provide top-of-the-line concrete to customers in Northern New Jersey using state-of-the-art mobile concrete mixers. Give us a call today at (201) 797-7550 to learn more.

How to Keep Weeds From Growing in a Concrete Paver Patio

Weed Growing in PatioAre unsightly weeds taking a toll on the appearance of your concrete paver patio? These weeds might be awfully stubborn, but there are steps you can take to prevent unwanted growth from sprouting in the joints of your paver patio. This way, your patio will always look as good as the day it was first built.

Begin by killing any existing weeds.

The first thing you’ll want to do is kill any existing weeds that are already growing in your patio. There are many products you can buy to do this, but the safest way to kill weeds is with a solution of white vinegar, water and a few drops of dish soap. Just apply this solution to the weeds with a spray bottle and they should begin to die in a matter of hours.

Manually remove the remaining weeds

Once the weeds have died, you should remove them by hand to prevent them from growing back. If possible, use a short-handled weeding tool to pull the weeds up by their roots; simply breaking weeds off at the base of the stem may not be enough to keep them from returning in the future.

Fill the joints between concrete pavers with polymeric sand.

Now that you’ve removed the existing weeds from your patio, it’s time to fill the joints between the concrete pavers so that weeds can’t come back. Specifically, you should use polymeric sand that contains a special bonding agent that forms a tight seal when wet. Use a broom to work the sand into the joints, wet it with a misting attachment on a garden hose and then allow it to dry for a few days to create a tight, weed-proof seal.

Need a hand with your next concrete paving project? Our concrete buggies and metered mobile mixers make it easy and affordable to pour patios, driveways and more. Just give us a call at (201) 979-7550 today to get started!

Old Tires Could Help Prevent Fire Spalling in Concrete Structures

Used TiresWhen a concrete structure or paved surface is involved in a fire, it won’t burn. It may, however, “spall.” When this happens, the outer layers of concrete will break apart violently and leave the structure unstable. In some cases, an entire structure may collapse to the ground as a result of intense fire spalling. The good news is, there might be something that concrete installers can do to prevent this from happening in the future.

Recently, a few companies have started adding polypropylene fibers to concrete when it’s being poured to stop it from spalling.

These fibers create small channels inside the concrete that allow moisture to escape, thereby preventing the explosive spalling that can take place during a fire. Unfortunately, though, pure polypropylene fibers are quite expensive to produce.

That’s why a team of researchers at the University of Sheffield in England is experimenting with ways to extract polypropylene fibers from the rubber found in recycled tires. If they’re able to develop a cost-effective way to extract the fibers and distribute them evenly in poured concrete, it could make the concrete structures of tomorrow far better able to withstand fire damage.

There’s still more work that needs to be done before we can start using our recycled tires in concrete construction, but it might just be a matter of time before this innovation becomes a practical reality. Until then, you can count on Bergen Mobile Concrete to provide you with the concrete delivery services you need to build durable patios, porches and more on your property. To get started, feel free to give us a call at (201) 797-7550 today!

Texas Company Receives Permit to Build 3D-Printed Concrete Homes

Concrete Home Over the course of the past few years, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the idea of 3D-printing homes and other structures. 3D-printed homes have the potential to be affordable, durable and sustainable—a combination that is appealing both to home builders and prospective homeowners. But until recently, most companies pursing 3D-printed construction have only been able to show off rough demos of the process. This has left some skeptics to wonder if 3D-printed homes are ever actually going to get off the ground.

That could be about to change, however, thanks to an Austin, Texas-based company called Sunconomy.

Sunconomy recently partnered with a San Francisco-based housing development company called Forge New to begin leasing and licensing a 3D-printed home system called We Print Houses to home builders and residential contractors across the U.S. This system features both a mobile platform and mechanical systems that will provide builders and contractors an opportunity to create 3D-printed concrete homes.

Sunconomy says there will be a number of notable benefits associated with using their technology to 3D-print homes.

To begin with, the company claims it will only take a few weeks to build concrete homes using their system. The homes are also reportedly quite energy efficient and able to withstand everything from hurricane-force winds and hail to flooding and even earthquakes. In addition to giving builders and contractors a chance to employ the We Print Houses system in real-world scenarios, Sunconomy is also offering training courses and a certification program to help their customers make the most of the technology.

It remains to be seen whether or not the We Print Houses system is the game-changer Sunconomy hopes it will be, but it’s already being used to build at least one 3D-printed concrete home in Texas. Sunconomy calls the home “Genesis,” and it will feature three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a garage and its own renewable energy generation system at a cost of just under $300,000.

3D-printed concrete structures may not be in the mainstream just yet, but with companies like Sunconomy leading the way, they could be one step closer to widespread adoption.