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PATH: Functionally Graded Cement-Based Materials for Residential Construction

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

* Leslie J. Struble, Principal Investigator
* Glaucio H. Paulino, Co-Principal Investigator

Start: September 15, 2003
Expires: August 31, 2006


This research project addresses the production of cement-based materials for residential construction using extrusion so as to produce functionally graded microstructures and then measure and compute the engineering properties provided by such microstructures. The two primary objectives are:

  • to develop construction components (e.g., siding) with graded cellular structures that are highly porous in the center and dense on the outer surface, thereby reducing the density without producing high permeability and low strength usually associated with highly porous materials;
  • to produce components (e.g., beams) with graded fiber reinforcement such that highest concentration of fibers occurs at the bottom of the beam where the tensile strain is greatest, thereby taking advantage of the substantial mechanical benefits of fibers in extruded cement-based composites with a lower overall fiber volume through efficient engineering of the microstructure.

Co-extrusion of multiple constituents and multiple cycles of extrusion will be used to process these materials. Specimens will be examined using scanning electron microscopy to determine whether the processing is producing the desired microstructures. Engineering properties (modulus, Poisson ratio, strength, fracture toughness) will be computed based on microscopic and macroscopic scales. The computed properties will be compared with measured properties and with observed microstructures so as to demonstrate validity of the computation and to refine the computational method as needed.

A relevant broad impact of the proposed research is its potential to increase the use of advanced cement-based materials in residential construction. These materials have important advantages over the more traditional wood-based materials (fire resistance, durability), however, their use has been limited by their high density and low toughness, issues addressed directly by this research.

An industrial advisory group will help assure that the research is suitably innovative, industrially feasible, and economically viable The proposed research will also impact education, adding studies of residential construction in the civil engineering curriculum and making studies of construction materials available to students in architecture.

View additional details on this NSF award.

Content updated on 3/18/2004

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