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UTA awarded funding to test long-lasting concrete pipes for strength

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A team at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) has been awarded a $653,000 (€593,220) contract by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to test longer-lasting concrete pipes embedded with polypropylene fibres for strength and durability.

The team, led by Ali Abolmaali, Tseng Huang Endowed Professor, will monitor and evaluate the performance of these pipes through robotic inspection of their interior and will scan samples with an electron microscope to test their chemical composition.

"Professor Abolmaali's research related to synthetic fibre concrete pipes has been on the leading edge of research in this area and has already led to the development of new international standards and acceptance by the American Concrete Pipe Association," said UTA president Vistasp Karbhari said. "The new research project will undoubtedly take this one step further through the assessment of performance in the field – and further cements Professor Abolmaali's reputation as a leading researcher internationally, as well as the stature of the department as a leader in pipe research across the United States. I'm extremely proud of the way in which he and other faculty have not only pioneered new innovations, but have also enabled the rapid transfer of these into use by industry. This is a true example of impactful university research."

Abolmaali created a worldwide ASTM standard in 2015 that describes a technically strong and durable reinforcement option that can be used for underground piping. The long-term performance of these pipes, reinforced with polypropylene synthetic macrofibre, was observed in tests in Florida.

"We were the first researchers in the world to test and develop synthetic fibre concrete pipes, and we developed the worldwide standard for the first time, too," Abolmaali said. "We hope that our work with TxDOT will show that these pipes are sustainable with a life span of more than 100 years."

Previous tests have shown that synthetic fibre-reinforced concrete pipes will last 375 years, which is much longer than steel-reinforced concrete pipes.