Traditionally, curing concrete in extreme conditions results in a weakened structure – cold weather can cause small ‘micro-cracks’ to develop where the water in the mixture freezes, whilst hot weather can lead to weak bonds between the cement and the aggregates in concrete.

But now researchers at Brunel University London and Mutah University in Jordan have shown how adding sodium acetate not only significantly increases the compressive strength of concrete in extremes of warm or cool weather, but also reduces the amount of water the concrete absorbs, potentially paving the way for stronger concrete that requires less on-going maintenance.

“Currently, most available protective additives in concrete reduce its compressive strength,” said Dr Seyed Ghaffar, an assistant professor at Brunel’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who authored the paper alongside colleagues Dr Mujib Rahman, Dr Omar Abo Madyan and Dr Mazen Al-Kheetan.

“Sodium acetate, on the other hand, has proven its ability to preserve and even increase the compressive strength of concrete under harsh weather conditions.”