Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2015
ABSTRACT: Energetic composite materials comprise crystalline energetic particles embedded in a polymer matrix. There is a need to gain insight into the microstructure and damage mechanisms of energetic composites via nondestructive evaluation. Applications of x-ray computed micro-tomography to resolve the microstructure of energetic composites are challenged by the low density gradient between the energetic particles and the polymer matrix. There is, however, a sharp contrast between the crystallinity of the crystalline (energetic) particles and the largely amorphous polymer matrix. Micro-tomography techniques relying upon x-ray diffraction (XRD) contrast thus promise to resolve the microstructure and damage mechanisms of energetic composites. An XRD-based approach to micro-tomography could also distinguish between different crystalline structures encountered in energetic composites. The proposed Phase I project will produce experimental proof of concept for the capabilities of x-ray diffraction contrast micro-tomography to resolve the microstructure and damage mechanisms of energetic composites with low density gradients. The Phase I effort will also design a blast containment system incorporating high-rate deformation capabilities to contain and deform the energetic composite specimens during x-ray diffraction contrast micro-tomography. BENEFIT: Integration of x-ray absorption & diffraction contrast micro-tomography would address market needs for resolving the microstructure and damage mechanisms of energetic and other composite materials with low density gradients as well as broad classes of polycrystalline materials. The new capabilities offered by these integrated systems are of value towards development and testing of a energetic composite materials and propellants that are of interest to the Air Force and DOD, and also to mining, rocket propellant and other industries. Development and testing of polycrystalline materials would further expand the fields of application of the technology. Diverse inorganic, metallic and organic materials, used in aerospace, power generation, electrical/electronics, and chemical/petrochemical applications, can be investigated via x-ray diffraction contrast micro-tomography.
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2015
A versatile building system will be developed for effective use of indigenous materials towards expedient and economical construction of safe, serviceable, weather-resistant, sustainable and energy-efficiency buildings and other infrastructure systems. The indigenous materials of interest include: (i) reactive minerals such as biomass ash, natural pozzolans and lime for production of inorganic binders; (ii) natural fibers, fabric and rope for reinforcement of the inorganic binders and development of insulation layers; and (iii) traditional building materials such as adobe, stone and brick masonry, rammed earth and wood. These locally available materials will be formed into sandwich composite walls and roofs comprising (indigenous) ferrocement skins, and interior cores of traditional building materials (rammed earth, masonry, etc.) and/or natural fiber insulation. Measures will be taken to ensure adequate shear transfer across the core for integrated composite action. The ferrocement reinforcement will be continued through joints to ensure integrated structural action. The Phase I project will develop a theoretical framework for design of building systems, conduct experiments on building subcomponents, components and joints to verify the theoretical predictions, assess the potential of the new building system to meet the targeted requirements at viable cost, and devise strategies for further development of the building system.
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2015
Ultra-high-performance concrete (UHPC) offers superior properties for structural applications. Existing UHPC design and production methods employ special materials and mixers. This project is developing mix design and fabrication methods for reliable production of UHPC with local materials and facilities. The Phase I project devised material selection criteria, proportioning methods and mixing procedures which enabled production of UHPCs with 30 ksi (200 MPa) compressive strength using common materials and methods. Fiber reinforcement was used to achieve a desired balance of engineering properties. The rate of hydration of UHPC was controlled for practical field thermal curing. A pilot-scale field investigation validated the scalability of UHPC materials and construction methods. The Phase II project will broaden the raw materials selections, refine the mix design and scaled-up production, and establish quality control and nondestructive inspection methods for reliable and cost-effective production of UHPC materials and large structures. Field projects will be implemented in conjunction with numerical analyses in order to validate the scalability of UHPC production, and construction of large UHPC structures. The Phase II project will also develop UHPC material models and structural design procedures, and will quantify the performance, initial and life-cycle cost and sustainability benefits of UHPC structures.
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.05M | Year: 2016
Versatile construction materials are under development where readily available raw materials (soils) and indigenous construction materials are blended to produce high-performance hydraulic cements. Abundant natural fabrics are used as reinforcement to produce indigenous ferrocements. Natural foaming agents are also used to produce indigenous aerated concrete. Sandwich composites comprising indigenous ferrocement skins and aerated concrete cores are designed as efficient and lightweight structural components for construction of safe, serviceable, energy-efficient and economical building systems.
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.00M | Year: 2015
The massive quantities of concrete used worldwide (estimated at 30 billion tons/yr), and the susceptibility of concrete to carbonation provide opportunities for chemical binding of significant quantities of carbon dioxide. The resulting carbonates can enhance the material properties of concrete by supplementing the binding effects of cement hydrates. Carbonation of concrete without tailoring its chemistry, however, lowers the pore solution alkalinity, and thus the long-term stability of cement hydrates and the oxide layer protecting reinforcing steel against corrosion. Beneficial CO2 sequestration in concrete also requires development of economical means of delivering carbon dioxide to induce timely and homogeneous carbonation reactions across the concrete volume. The main thrust of this project is to develop robust and commercially viable methods for chemical binding of large CO2 volumes in concrete while realizing balanced gains in material properties. These methods are compatible with the manufacturing process of cementitious materials and the prevalent concrete production and construction practices. They suit existing concrete chemistries, and can also stimulate longer-term transition to more sustainable chemistries. The project employs the inherent affinity of cementitious materials for carbonation to make direct use of flue gas, thus eliminating the need for costly CO2 separation. The Phase I project developed economical and scalable methods for delivering carbon dioxide to concrete in the form of carbonate anions incorporated into cementitious particles. This approach induces timely and homogeneous carbonation reactions which supplement hydration of cementitious materials for enhancing the structure and properties of concrete. Additives with complementary mechanisms of action were identified for enhancing the CO2 uptake, the beneficial carbonation reactions, and the long-term stability of cement hydrates and steel reinforcement in concrete. The compatibility of the technology with the conventional chemistry of concrete was demonstrated, and its enabling role towards transition to more sustainable chemistries was verified. Initial and life-cycle analyses validated the significant merits of the technology as a commercially viable approach to high-impact CO2 sequestration, and as an effective means of addressing critical needs relevant to the concrete-based infrastructure. The proposed Phase II project will: (i) adapt the technology for use with broader selections of raw materials and additives; (ii) devise refined chemistries for selective sorption of carbon dioxide from flue gas; (iii) thoroughly characterize the structure and properties of cementitious materials embodying carbonate anions, and concrete materials with integrated hydrate and carbonate binders; (iv) scale-up the process in an industrial manufacturing plant where cement and slag processing is accompanied with flue gas emission; (v) demonstrate the compatibility of cementitious materials embodying carbonate anions with industrial-scale concrete production and field construction; (vi) elaborate and model the mechanisms of CO2 sorption and the subsequent beneficial carbonation; and (vii) conduct refined initial and life-cycle analyses to further verify and quantify the benefits of the technology in terms of CO2 sequestration and emission control, energy and cost savings, and enhancing the longevity, efficiency and life-cycle economy of the concrete- based infrastructure. Cement and concrete industries have made commitments towards pilot-scale implementation and field evaluation of the technology.
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2015
Portland cement concrete is the most widely used construction material, and is a prevalent component of construction and demolition (C&D) waste. The large carbon footprint and energy content of Portland cement concrete; the constraints on its strength, durability and capability to encapsulate toxic elements; and the low value of C&D waste concrete have created a growing demand for alternative cementitious materials. The limitations of concrete are deep-rooted in Portland cement chemistry, which is based on calcium silicates forged at extreme temperatures through polluting and energy-intensive processes. The hydrates of these calcium silicates lack the integrated structure with primary bonds that provide rocks, ceramics and other materials with far superior engineering properties. The massive quantities of concrete consumed magnify the adverse economic and environmental consequences associated with these drawbacks. Growing efforts have been devoted in recent years to the development and market transition of new concrete chemistries. A new class of concrete provides a technically and economically viable basis for overcoming the challenges of today’s concrete materials. This concrete relies upon chemically versatile aluminosilicates to render binding effects, which are formed using minimally processed and abundant waste products and possess extended 3D structures integrated with primary bonds. The energy content and carbon footprint of the emerging aluminosilicate-based concrete are an order of magnitude less than those of traditional concrete materials based on calcium silicate binders. The superior chemistry and structure of aluminosilicate-based concrete materials provide them with strength, impermeability, durability, and (hazardous element) encapsulation qualities that far surpass those of traditional Portland cement concrete. The versatile nature of aluminosilicate-based concrete materials enables effective and safe use of substantial quantities of C&D wastes and industrial byproducts. Finally, the aluminosilicate-based binders exhibit a tendency towards crystallization with aging, which raises the value of their demolition waste as quality aggregates when they reach the end of their extended service life. The proposed project focuses on further lowering the cost and sustainability of aluminosilicate-based concrete materials through value-added use of C&D wastes and some abundant industrial byproducts. The resulting high-recycled-content geopolymer concrete materials could be tailored towards practically all applications of traditional concrete materials. The precast/prestressed concrete industry is the sector within the broader concrete industry that has been more open to the adoption of new technologies, and uses high-performance concrete on a routine basis. Metna Co. will work with both this sector and the broader industry towards development, pilot-scale implementation and market transition of high-recycled-content geopolymer concrete materials. The precast concrete and concrete pipe manufacturers, concrete materials suppliers, builders, and the waste management industry would be Metna Co.’s key partners in scale-up, field evaluation and market transition of the technology. The key environmental benefits of the technology are: (1) close to 90 percent reduction in the carbon footprint of concrete, noting that production of today’s Portland cement for use in concrete accounts for about 7 percent of man-made CO2 emissions; (2) value-added use in geopolymer concrete of major constituents of C&D waste (demolished concrete, waste glass, gypsum, waste concrete sludge) and market-limited industrial byproducts (foundry sand and growing volumes of clean coal combustion ash, which do not suit use in traditional concrete); and (3) effective encapsulation in geopolymer concrete of any toxic elements present in C&D waste, sludge, ash, foundry sand and other waste raw materials. These benefits have been shared with representatives from the concrete industry and other industries whose byproducts will find value-added applications in geopolymer concrete. The letters presented in the proposal indicate that the industry concurs with the envisioned environmental benefits of the technology.
Agency: Department of Agriculture | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 500.00K | Year: 2015
This project develops markets for value-added and large-volume use of the non-wood biomass combustion ash generated in power plants and biorefineries. The targeted applications are concrete construction materials where the chemistry of non-wood biomass ash can be used beneficially to realize improved performance characteristics. The new concrete materials offer significant economic and sustainability benefits resulting from replacement of raw materials of high cost, energy content and carbon footprint with biomass ash.
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2015
Statement of the Problem / Situation: The clean coal (selective catalytic, fluidized bed, etc.) combustion technologies adopted by power plants largely emphasize control of sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions. These technologies tend to increase the quantity of the solid residues of coal combustion, and compromise the quality of these residues in existing applications of coal ash. There is thus a need for improved management of the solid residues of clean coal combustion. There is also a growing need for control of the CO2 emissions of coal-burning power plants. The Approach: Cost-effective, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly methods will be developed for in-situ sequestration of carbon dioxide emissions through reactions with the solid residues of clean coal combustion. These carbonation reactions would beneficiate the clean coal combustion residues for value-added use in a sustainable class of concrete (geopolymer concrete). Catalytic mechanochemistry will be used to significantly raise the carbon uptake of residues at ambient temperature and room pressure, and to resolve the chemical and toxicity barriers against value-added use of the clean coal combustion residues. Exploratory studies of the proposing team have indicated that : (i) mechanochemical carbonation adds significant value to the fluidized bed combustion fly ash as a source of aluminosilicats for geopolymerization; and (ii) the carbon uptake of solid residues far exceeds the carbon emissions of the mechanochemical process, yielding geopolymer concrete materials with negative carbon footprint. The proposed Phase I project will: (1) develop optimum conditions for catalytic mechanochemical carbonation of selected clean coal combustion residues; (2) formulate geopolymer binders which supplement carbonated clean coal combustion residues with minerals and activators to meet the relevant chemical requirements; (3) quantify the value rendered by carbonation of clean coal ash towards sequestration of carbon dioxide and development of high-performance geopolymer concrete materials; and (4) verify the life-cycle environmental benefits and the commercial merits of the approach. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The proposed approach will enable coal-burning power plants reduce their CO2 emissions and add value to the solid residues of clean coal combustion. Significant environmental and economic benefits can be realized by the power plants adopting the technology at limited capital cost. Value-added use of carbonated ash in geopolymer concrete would also help the construction industry with significant reduction of the carbon footprint and energy content of the concrete-based infrastructure. The improved durability characteristics of the resulting geopolymer concrete would also benefit the life-cycle economy and sustainability of the concrete-based infrastructure, which would be of value to the government and private owners of infrastructure systems. Key Words: clean coal combustion, solid residues, carbon dioxide sequestration, carbonation, mechanochemistry, catalysts, geopolymer concrete, sustainable construction. Summary for Members of Congress: The clean coal combustion technologies which are increasingly adopted by power plants for control of sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions still emit significant quantities of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and yield growing quantities of landfill-bound ash. The technology will make value-added use of carbon dioxide emissions to beneficiate the ash for construction applications.
Agency: Department of Transportation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 450.00K | Year: 2015
NMR offers comprehensive capabilities for quantitative investigation of the chemistry, structure and deterioration conditions of concrete. Single-sided NMR provides opportunities for nondestructive, spatially resolved field evaluation of concrete. A first-generation single-sided NMR system was developed in Phase I project, and its potential for investigation of concrete deterioration mechanisms was demonstrated through laboratory and preliminary field investigations. The Phase II project will develop and validate an advanced single-sided NMR device and the corresponding operation/data analysis procedures for achieving a greater depth of penetration, and improved precision and thoroughness in quantitative analysis of the concrete structure and deterioration conditions. The Phase II project will be implemented in two parts. The focus of Part 1 will be on development of the improved NMR system, and validation of its enhanced attributes through laboratory and field investigations of concrete at different states of deterioration. Various analytical chemistry methods will be employed for verifying and calibrating the NMR test data. The focus of Part 2 will be on performance of more comprehensive field and laboratory investigations towards through validation and refinement of the NMR system and operation/data analysis procedures for reliable identification and spatially resolved quantification of the prevalent processes of concrete deterioration.
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2016
Economically viable and market-driven methods are needed for value-added and large-volume use of the CO2 content of coal combustion emissions in industrial processes. At the same time, there are growing concerns with the environmental and health impacts of billions of tons of the coal combustion ashes that have been impounded and landfilled in the vicinity of coal-burning power plants over the past decades. A new method is proposed and partially verified for selective and large-volume incorporation of the carbon dioxide content of flue gas into impounded/landfilled coal ash without resorting to energy- intensive and costly high-temperature and high-pressure mineralization methods. The new process employs mechanochemical techniques which occur at ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure. This approach selectively captures the carbon dioxide content of flue gas, and incorporates it into impounded/landfilled coal ash as disordered carbonates. Concurrent incorporation of CO2 into and mechanical activation of ash yields a hydraulic binder with strong capabilities for stabilization/solidification of hazardous and radioactivewaste via formation of integrated carbonates and zeolitic structures. These structures permanently bind carbon dioxide as crystalline carbonates. The preliminary study undertaken to partially verify the proposed concepts demonstrated the potential for incorporation of carbon dioxide into coal ash particles at room temperature via mechanical activation in a dilute CO2 environment. This study also demonstrated the potential for concurrent CO2 incorporation into and mechanical activation of coal ash for production of a high-performance and sustainable hydraulic binder. Finally, the preliminary study confirmed that the CO2 incorporated into the coal ash particles at relatively large volumes yields beneficial effects by carbonation reactions supplementing the formation of zeolitic structures during the hydration process. The proposed Phase I project will: (i) develop models and devise theoretically viable formulations and processing conditions for concurrent CO2 incorporation into and mechanical activation of impounded/landfilled coal ash; (ii) experimentally verify the governing mechanisms and the beneficial effects of CO2 beneficiation of coal ashes subjected to mechanical activation for use in stabilization/solidification of hazardous and radioactive wastes; and (iii) verify and quantify the net CO2 consumption in the process, and the value rendered by CO2 to improve the competitive performance, cost and sustainability advantages of activated ash as a commercially viable inorganic binder for stabilization/solidification applications. Commercially viable methods will be developed for value-added and large-volume use of the CO2 emissions from coal-burning power plants to beneficiate the landfilled coal ash for environmental applications. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Value-added use of the CO2 emissions of coal-burning power plants to beneficiate the tremendous volumes of coal ash impounded and landfilled in the vicinity of power plants can transforms large volumes of carbon dioxide and the problematic solid residues of coal combustion into marketable products for large-volume use in stabilization/solidification of hazardous and radioactive wastes. The resulting inorganic binder offers distinct advantages in stabilization/solidification applications due to the parallel formation of integrated zeolitic structures and crystalline carbonates. The novel and simple processing techniques employed in the project enable cost-effective processing of CO2 into commercially viable end products which create market-driven opportunities for value-added and large- volume use of CO2 in environmental applications.