Carbon nanofibres make conductive cement

Researchers at the University of Alicante have developed a cementitious material incorporating carbon nanofibres in its composition, turning cement into a conductor of electricity.

This latest advance, developed and patented by the UA Civil Engineering Department’s Research Group in Multifunctional Concrete Conductors, allows the material to heat up due to the passage of current.

Pedro Garcés, head of research said, ‘The technology allows buildings’ premises to heat or prevents the formation of ice on infrastructure, such as highways, railways, roads, airstrips and other elements.

‘To obtain a cementitious compound effective as the heating element, this should have a low resistivity. This is not achieved in conventional concrete because they are poor conductors of electricity. However, this can be achieved by the addition of conductive materials such as, for example, carbonaceous materials.’

The university claims that in this way, a new conductive compound with more interesting properties is achieved since it keeps the structural properties of concrete and does not compromise the durability of the structures themselves.

This new product is claimed to have great versatility, since any existing structure or surface can be coated with it, keeping thermal control in it by applying continuous electric current.

According to a statement, the research group has so far developed trials to test the technology in plasters with carbonaceous materials. These tests are said to have given satisfactory results, obtaining optimal properties of heating the material with minimum energy consumption.