NTU Assistant Professor Yang En-Hua holding the bendable concrete developed by his team. [Credit: Nanyang Technological University]

Singapore scientists develop extra strong bendable concrete

Experts at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have invented a new type of concrete that is stronger and more sustainable than its current counterpart. 

ConFlexPave, a new type of concrete created at the NTU-JTC Industrial Infrastructure Innovation Centre (I3C) in Singapore, is stronger and lasts longer than regular concrete, which is heavy, brittle and can break under tension.

This new bendable form of concrete allows for the creation of slim precast pavement slabs that take half the time to install, saving time and cost on installation as well as requiring less maintenance.

ConFlexPave was specifically engineered to have certain types of hard materials mixed with polymer microfibres. These special synthetic fibres, besides allowing the concrete to flex under tension, also enhance skid resistance. The key breakthrough was understanding how the components of the materials interact with one another mechanically on a microscopic level.

“With detailed understanding, we can then deliberately select ingredients and engineer the tailoring of components, so our final material can fulfil the specific requirements needed,” said project leader Assistant Professor Yang En-Hua, from NTU’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

“The hard materials give a non-slip surface texture while the microfibres, which are thinner than the width of a human hair, distribute the load across the whole slab, resulting in a concrete that is as tough as metal and at least twice as strong as conventional concrete under bending.”

Successfully tested within NTU laboratories, further testing will now take place in partnership with JTC, the lead government agency responsible for the development of industrial infrastructure in Singapore. Suitable JTC industrial estates will install ConFlexPave to see how it fares with human and automotive traffic.

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