Biopolymer Modified Cementitious Systems with Radically Superior Strength and Durability

Special Projects
Project Term:
09/30/2019 - 10/31/2021

Critical Need:

This topic would develop extremely durable concretes and cementitious materials to tackle technology challenges in the development of widely applicable concrete and cement. Cement is the second most used substance in the world (next to water), largely due to its low cost, abundance, and reliability in a wide variety of environments. Cement has been a LITERAL building block of society dating back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, but current production and utilization methods pose significant energy and emissions challenges. These threaten cement’s growth as domestic infrastructure degrades with age. Cement is important to U.S. energy production, as well as to infrastructure industry. The International Energy Agency estimated that in 2016 the cement and concrete sector consumed 10.5 exa-joules of energy and generated 2.2 gigatons of CO2 emissions globally. ARPA-E is seeking to develop novel materials for infrastructure with improved performance and lifetime and lower energy and emissions impacts. These projects present opportunities to develop material and process improvements that could improve the durability of cement, while maintaining or lowering production and deployment-related emissions. They could also ensure new types of cement are cost-competitive with existing traditional materials.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Develop a scalable process to fortify cement paste at the atomic scale with biopolymer-based nanomaterials derived from chitin, a waste material produced by the seafood industry in millions of tons annually. The newly enabled concrete is envisioned to transform the U.S. construction market, saving of dollars in repair and reconstruction costs every year and dramatically improving lifecycle energy and emissions costs for infrastructure.