Sustainability of Reinforcement Alternatives for Concrete
Paper in proceedings, 2014
The building construction industry is in need of sustainable materials and solutions. A novel building material, such as Textile Reinforced Concrete (TRC), could be used to meet this demand. TRC is a combination of fine-grained concrete and multi-axial textile fabrics, which has been fundamentally researched over the past decade. It was discovered that TRC can be utilized to build slender, lightweight, modular and freeform structures while eliminating the risk of corrosion. TRC-based research has explored various facets of this composite material, such as its structural functionality, production, applicability and design. One key aspect that is still missing, however, is a comprehensive review of the sustainable potential of this material in terms of its reduced use of resources and long-term performance.
This article provides a quantitative evaluation of the sustainable potential and prospective development of TRC particularly reinforced by alkali-resistant (AR) glass, carbon or basalt fibres. A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was performed according to a cradle-to-gate perspective, wherein conventional steel reinforced concrete and TRC were compared.
Based on the outcome of this evaluation, concrete was found to be the dominating variable, such that its demand makes up 80-95% of the total energy demand for a reinforced concrete element. A decrease in concrete can thus have a substantial impact on the total energy consumption of a reinforced concrete element. The allowable decrease of concrete in TRC compensates for an increase in textile reinforcement and associated increase in energy consumption, particularly in the case of carbon and basalt textile fibres. On the whole, basalt textile fibres were observed to have the least cumulative energy demand while both basalt and carbon had the least environmental impact. Such comprehensive evaluations can help conceptualize ecologically sustainable building solutions for implementation in the construction industry.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
Textile Reinforced Concrete (TRC)