The country’s aging infrastructure requires massive investment. Civil Engineers estimate that the U.S. has to invest some $4.5 trillion by 2025 to correct the nation’s roads, bridges, dams and other infrastructure.
Imagine if engineers can build structures with substances which don’t degrade over time. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine have suggested a new simulation technique that might help engineers do that.
This technique can help researchers not only better understand how substances weaken with age, but also develop materials that maintain their strength forever.
According to the researchers, aging originates at the molecular and atomic levels. Due to this minuscule scale, it is nearly impossible to monitor tiny changes over extended periods. In a computer simulation of materials, you may need to simulate quadrillion time steps to catch just 1 second of behaviour. That wouldn’t even get us closer to the time scales relevant for aging phenomena, that can be in the order of decades and decades.
Within their incremental stress-marching technique, Qomi along with his graduate student subject the material’s molecular structure to cyclic stress fluctuations and then stick to the material’s response to such perturbations. The hydrated cement is made up of disk-like globules in the nanoscale. We also discovered that the collective behaviour of globules gives rise to a non-asymptotic deformation, which we consider to be in the roots of creep in cementitious materials. It was intriguing to see nuclear sources of viscoelastic and logarithmic deformation under constant stress.
The Federal Highway Administration spends over $80 billion per year to repair bridges that degrade because of aging phenomena. Recognizing how structural materials era is the very first step toward designing reduced-aging materials that have the potential to save taxpayers money.