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Possible Applications For Crumb Rubber Concrete

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You may not have noticed, but you have been riding on asphalt that has rubber mixed in with it.  There are numerous applications for rubberized concrete for precast concrete applications.  This may seem a bit preposterous, but there are a host of potential applications for rubberized concrete.  The advantages to rubberized concrete make it worth considering the possibilities.

Before we discuss rubberized concrete, let’s look at a brief history of the product and its benefits.  Dr. Han Zhu who is an engineering professor at Arizona State university noticed that there is a great number of recyclable tires at a shredding plant in Arizona.  At this point, he began to think about how to use these tires in concrete.  He used the facilities at the university with the students acting as his labor force and began working on his new idea.

recycled tires used in crumb rubberZhu began experimenting with this concept with the help of some colleagues.  George Way, who at that time was the chief pavement design engineer for Arizona DOT and Doug Carlson who is on the board of the Recycle Tire Engineering and Research Foundation, became major players in this project.  Later in the project Mark Belshe, who at the time was the vice president of FNF construction was added into the mix.

The project has dealt primarily with poured concrete and there are numerous possibilities that the group is very excited about for pre-cast applications.

Many of the characteristics found in crumb rubber would work just as well for precast as for poured in place concrete.  As an example, crumb rubber produces light weight panels that are beneficial for noise control and insulation.  Another application where crumb rubber would work well, is in a computer room or electrical room where the insulation would help reduce static in the walls.

Another impressive characteristic of crumb rubber is its excellent freeze and thaw characteristics.  The team found with crumb rubber that the expansion and contraction was cut in half.

An additional advantage is that shrinking and cracking was dramatically reduced.  Research found that 45 degree cracking was almost completely eliminated.

As you can see these are excellent advantages.  But we need to consider that there are characteristics that could be considered a disadvantage.  One of the most obvious, is its strength reduction.  The more rubber content in the concrete, the greater the reduction in strength.  To strengthen the concrete you would need a greater mixture of concrete and less rubber.

Some possible applications for precast concrete that uses crumb rubber are many.  One application that would be beneficial would be the barriers along the highways during construction because they are much lighter making them easier to transport.  In addition too much easier transportation, the elimination of the 45° cracking would be a an additional benefit.  One more benefit to using crumb rubber for the concrete barriers along the highway is that they would be more forgiving should a vehicle run into it.  This could be an important safety factor.

There is yet another possible application for using precast crumb rubber, urban sidewalks.  A beneficial characteristic to precast crumb rubber is that the end product is almost completely non slip in nature.  A possibility for this application would be to run the utility pipes for example water, sewer, electrical, phone and TV cables underneath the sidewalk instead of the street.  These lightweight precast concrete panels could be lifted up to access the pipes for service.  This application would be far less expensive than having to tear up streets whenever a pipe needs to be worked on.  It would be far more convenient to close down a sidewalk then a street, making me as a great selling point for cities and municipalities.

It may be difficult to retrofit a city with this type of program, but there is a tremendous amount of new construction going on where this application could be used and would be highly innovative.  A proactive a marketing plan on the precast community could make this happen.

Crum rubber panels are not strong enough for load bearing but they would be ideal for non load bearing walls in an office building.  Because these panels are lighter and non conductive for both noise and electricity they become an ideal candidate for this type of application.

Many tests have been run on crumb rubber concrete which revealed that this concrete is cooler than the standard counterpart.  Although these studies are inconclusive, if proven the idea of cooler concrete would lead to a tremendous number of possibilities.  For example, the urban heat island affect, which is the heat problems emitted in large urban areas could utilize crumb rubber concrete to minimize the heat produced in large cities.

Just as it is with every other type of innovation, crumb rubber concrete will most likely face a fair share of skeptics.  The experts do believe however, that the end user will be impressed because the process is so environmentally sound.  There is still much work needed to provide real evidence that the yet manages outweigh the possible cost of producing crumb rubber panels.

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