Learn how the US Army Corps of Engineers is using Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC) to modernize the nation’s infrastructure and extend the lifespan of structures. UHPC is strong, durable and sustainable, making it a viable option for lock wall rehabilitation projects.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is looking to Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC) to modernise America’s infrastructure.
With many locks supporting inland navigation built in the 1930s, new techniques and technologies are needed to ensure they continue operating for another century or more. UHPC is a well-known class of concrete that is strong, durable and sustainable, but it has not been widely used in civil works projects.
However, USACE is working with engineers at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) to adopt the use of pre-cast UHPC panels for lock wall rehabilitation projects. ERDC’s extensive experience with UHPCs in military applications has made them confident in the material’s durability and strength.
UHPC panels are not only stronger and more durable than those made with conventional concrete, but they also don’t require steel armor. Traditional concrete used in repairing damaged lock walls has strengths ranging from 5,000 to 8,000 pounds per square inch (PSI), while UHPC panels cure to a strength of 22,000 PSI in just 28 days.
ERDC tested the UHPC panels using data from more than three decades of research, including simulating what would happen if they were struck by a barge, and the results validated their exceptional strength and durability.
The UHPC panels are thinner than those made with conventional concrete, requiring less concrete to produce a much stronger panel.
This eliminates the need for steel armor, which increases project costs. USACE and ERDC plan to increase the usage of UHPC in USACE projects despite some obstacles, such as unfamiliarity with the product and technology and the perception that it is more expensive up front.
With the elimination of steel armor and reduced concrete usage, UHPC is becoming more cost-comparable to traditional concrete.
Overall, USACE’s move towards UHPC demonstrates a step towards more sustainable infrastructure. By replacing outdated infrastructure with durable and sustainable materials, the lifespan of structures can be extended, reducing the need for costly repairs and replacements.
- UHPC panels cure to a strength of 22,000 PSI in just 28 days.
- UHPC panels are thinner than those made with conventional concrete.
- The costs associated with the steel armor, along with the more complex logistics of casting it into the face of conventional concrete panels, increase project costs.