University of Alicante researchers convert cement into an electrical conductor
The new technology, developed and patented by the UA Civil Engineering Department’s Research Group in Multifunctional Concrete Conductors, allows, among other functions, the material to heat up due to the passage of current.
“The technology allows buildings’ premises to heat or prevents the formation of ice on infrastructure, such as highways, railways, roads, airstrips and other elements”, explained lecturer Pedro Garcés, head of research.
"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 conductive compound keeps the structural properties of concrete but does not compromise the durability of the structures themselves.
The new product offers versatility because any existing structure or surface can be coated with it, keeping thermal control in it by applying continuous electric current.
At present, the research group has developed trials to test the technology in plasters with carbonaceous materials. These tests have given satisfactory results, obtaining optimal properties of heating the material with minimum energy consumption.