CALGARY — It’s long been known that nanoparticles added to cement improve its strength, but doing it economically has been challenge.

A big part of the problem has been that nanoparticles need to be evenly dispersed through the cement, but when they’re added to the cement slurry they tend to clump together.Now, a University of Calgary professor and a doctoral student may have solved the problem.

“They ended up with nanoparticle clumping together at a certain spot within the structure, and that led to actually a defective structure,” said Maen Husein a professor of chemical Engineering in Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering.”In our case, we haven’t seen that,” he added. “And we have seen actually the cement under the microscope 100,000 times magnification, we have seen particles that are well dispersed.”

Husein, and doctoral student Ahmed Mahairi, have discovered a chemical reaction that can be cheaply and easily created as the cement is being mixed.”The reactions that we were doing – it’s typical reactions that (have been) known for ages.(in chemical engineering).” said Mahairi. “It’s just that nobody have ever thought of doing them within cement.