University Researchers Develop Cost-Effective Concrete Alternative

A walkway on the LSU campus paved with Engineered Cementitious Composites materials. Photo courtesy of Joshua Duplechain/LSU School of Engineering.

Researchers at Louisiana State University (LSU) (Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA) have produced an Engineered Cementitious Composite (ECC) material that serves as a cost-effective alternative to traditional concrete.

According to Gabriel Arce, a senior research associate in LSU’s Bert S. Turner Department of Construction Management and principal investigator on the LSU ECC project, ECC “has about 300 times more deformation capacity, more than two times the flexural strength, and a higher compressive strength” than concrete. While the cost of ECC is approximately 2.5 times that of regular concrete, factors such as increased thickness and the ability to construct pavements without joints ultimately help save ECC users both time and money, Arce said. 

In producing their ECC material, Arce and his team used the following ingredients: a polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) fiber used to reduce the fiber content while still producing a ductile material; locally sourced fine river sand from the Mississippi River as a replacement for microsilica sand; and locally available fly ash to replace up to 75% of the cement commonly used in ECC mixes.

Also known as ductile or bendable concrete, ECC was first developed by University of Michigan professor Victor Li in the early 1990s. Arce’s ECC version has been in development for over a year, beginning with his project proposal involving the Transportation Consortium of South-Central States, a collaborative partnership among several universities to address the deterioration of transportation infrastructure. In the near term, Arce and his team plan on building a 210 ft-long section of ECC pavement at the Louisiana Transportation Research Center Pavement Research Facility within the next few months, with plans to continue testing throughout the year. 

Source: LSU College of Engineering,