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Lansing, MI, United States

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: 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 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 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 Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2014

Carbon capture and storage is generally considered as a crucial component of any U.S. strategy for addressing the climate change problem. Carbon dioxide can be stored underground in geologic formations, or permanently bound into some abundant minerals via carbonation reactions. These options have been subject of significant research and development efforts. The proposed project employs the advances made in mineral carbonation in order to advance another important option for carbon capture where carbonation reactions are used to add value to cementitious materials which are used in massive quantities. Significant advances made in CO2 sequestration via mineral carbonation provide valuable lessons that could be used to refine the chemistry of cementitious materials for magnifying the rate, extent and benefits of carbonation reactions in concrete. The proposed project will adapt these lessons towards modifying the composition of cementitious materials for enhancing the beneficial use of carbonation reactions in concrete. The project will consider conventional Portland cement and also the more sustainable cementitious materials that are receiving growing commercial attention for lowering the carbon footprint and energy content of concrete. Beneficial use of carbonation in cementitious materials requires complementary use of hydration and carbonation reactions to improve the productivity, density, binding attributes, stability, barrier qualities and durability of cementitious materials. An integrated theoretical/experimental investigation will be conducted in Phase I effort to validate the potential for enhancing beneficial carbonation reactions via chemical modification of cementitious materials. The options to be evaluated for chemical modification of cementitious materials include: (i) addition of sodium bicarbonate to form a buffer solution which accelerates the dissolution and precipitation steps in carbonation, and acts as an effective CO2 carrier; (ii) addition of free CaO and MgO which, due to their reactivity with carbonic acid, enhance the carbonation reactivity of solutes, and raise the carbonation potential of cementitious materials; (iii) addition of alkalis to accelerate carbonation reactions, and to restore the pore solution alkalinity; and (iv) addition of (ground) abundant minerals based on magnesium oxide silicates, which can undergo direct carbonation reactions to benefit concrete products subjected to accelerated thermal curing. The proposed project will also evaluate mechanosorption as a practical and versatile approach to delivery of carbon dioxide, which promises to facilitate broader adoption of the technology by the concrete industry. Life-cycle analyses will be performed in order to assess the benefits of the technology in terms of CO2 sequestration, and energy and cost savings. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The technology promises to: (i) permanently bind substantial quantities of CO2; (ii) raise the productivity of concrete construction; (iii) enhance the engineering properties, service life, and initial and life-cycle economy of the concrete-based infrastructure; and (iv) reduce the energy content of concrete products. These advantages of the technology would benefit the public and the concrete industry by contributing towards CO2 sequestration, energy saving, and improvement of the economics and reliability of the concrete-based infrastructure.

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