MSE Professor, Kendra Erk, and grad students complete a day of concrete casting for research
Prof. Kendra Erk and current and former CE and MSE graduate students (Mr. Chibueze Ajuonuma, Mr. Akul Seshadri, and Dr. Caitlin Adams) recently completed a full day of concrete casting down in Indianapolis, Indiana with Shelby Materials (https://www.shelbymaterials.com/) as part of Prof. Erk’s on-going research project with Prof. Jan Olek (Purdue Civil Engineering), INDOT (https://www.in.gov/indot/) , and the Joint Transportation Research Program (SPR-4727; https://engineering.purdue.edu/JTRP). Concrete slabs, beams, and cylinders containing superabsorbent polymer (SAP) internal curing agents were created and will remain on-site for the next 12 months. Prof. Erk has been studying SAP internal curing agents for the past decade at Purdue and has found that addition of these water-swollen hydrogel particles helps to fuel the cement curing reaction from inside the concrete, leading to increased strength and durability of concrete mixtures without the need for additional external curing (https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/jtrp/1783/ ; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0008884621002970) . The current field trials will demonstrate how SAP internal curing agents perform in commercial-scale ready mixed concrete and how the properties of the internally cured concrete are influenced by environmental exposure. Creating such giant samples was awesome for our MSE team (https://soft-material-mechanics.squarespace.com/) and we look forward to seeing how our microscale SAP particles directly influence the concrete’s macroscale properties and performance.