Steel is the new cement. A new construction technique that substitutes tensile steel for cement and creates an alternative to regular concrete has been recognized with a U.S. Patent. The technique provides for the environmentally-friendly, economical, rapid construction of walls, foundations, driveways, roadways, dams, and levees. Mechanical Concrete®, a method to integrate crushed stone particles into a solid, has been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Mechanical Concrete® is a dry, instant process which combines crushed stone inside a thin-walled cylinder. The cylinder, Mechanical Cement®, confines and integrates the small stones into a solid, taking advantage of the natural property of aggregate particles to flow under pressure like a liquid. The thin-walled, tensile cylinder Mechanical Concrete® uses gravity and pressure to instantly integrate small stones into a large cell, a solid block that can support externally imposed loads. The effect is the same whether the cylinder is a length of pipe, a discarded tire with the sidewalls removed or a meshed fabric of structural fibers.
Career civil engineer Samuel G. Bonasso, P.E., President of REAGCO, discovered Mechanical Concrete®. A Fellow in the American Society of Civil Engineers, Bonasso is former West Virginia Secretary of Transportation, and former Acting Administrator of Research and Special Programs Administration of the U.S. DOT. “Reuse consumes less energy than recycling. So ten years ago I began searching for an efficient way to reuse waste tires. I discovered Mechanical Concrete®, which eliminates cement from the concrete mix” said Bonasso. “I realized Mechanical Concrete® could reuse the steel belt cylinders inside tires and also reduce the cost of construction and make construction a lot greener. From testing in the lab and with full scale projects, it’s proven to be fast, simple, easy, and economical.”
High ranking engineering professors, private and public engineers and contractors in the business have confirmed the uniqueness and potential of the product. Bonasso recently received project approval from the West Virginias Division of Highways Materials to sell the product to their agency. “The patent further confirms the uniqueness of the idea,” said Bonasso. “Conventional, Portland cement concrete requires at least 10 ingredients; Portland Cement, Water, Sand, Crushed Stone, A Concrete Mixer, Forms, Carpenters, Concrete Workers, Curing Time, Reinforcing steel. Mechanical Concrete® requires only three ingredients; the Mechanical Cement® Cylinder, Crushed Stone and General Labor. That difference is a lot of energy and money.”
Since the Roman Empire, concrete has been one of the most manufactured products in the world. Consisting of cement, water, sand and stone particles, it solidifies through a chemical curing process into a solid stone-like material. Today, cement manufacturing is the fourth largest generator of greenhouse gases.
Traditionally construction has three methods for integrating small, crushed stones together, all use large amounts of energy,” said Bonasso, “ Friction, when stone is compacted together using heavy equipment; hot-mix asphalt, when pavement is created; and cement, when concrete is created for foundations, walls, sidewalks, columns and roadways. Any construction method that reduces the use of compaction, asphalt, and cement reduces cost, energy consumption and the generation of greenhouse gases. Mechanical Concrete® is now a fourth way to integrate small stones into big stones without using compaction, asphalt or cement. It uses less energy in manufacturing and construction. And, when tire tread cylinders are employed as the Mechanical Cement®, it reuses a major societal waste. It is by far the greenest and most economical method for building road bases and foundations on the market.”
Laboratory tests and field demonstrations of Mechanical Concrete® have been conducted at West Virginia University College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, by the West Virginia Division of Highways, private engineers and in the natural resource industry. These projects show that Mechanical Concrete® is not only much faster than regular concrete but it also offers a minimum of 25% reduction in cost.
How strong is Mechanical Concrete®? “It can be designed to be as strong as necessary to support the desired loads,” said Bonasso. “Like conventional concrete, Mechanical Concrete® is an engineered material. Its strength depends on the materials selected for the specific use. For example, we could use a thin-walled steel cylinder and blast furnace slag particles to make it. Unlike regular concrete, Mechanical Concrete® can be a highly green, sustainable construction technology. I discovered this idea looking for a more efficient way to dispose of used automotive tires. What a surprise to find that not only could Mechanical Concrete® save people money, and be green, but it could generate basic changes in how we build using crushed stone materials. With Mechanical Concrete® we can now go anywhere in the world and build concrete walls, foundations, driveways, roadways, dams, and levees using loose, dry, permeable small stone particles without cement, asphalt or compaction. Mechanical Concrete® stretches the modern imagination with the new ways we could build basic infrastructure in developing countries and rebuild worn out infrastructure in industrialized countries.”