Concrete Cloth: Unique, Unexpected and Fascinating Applications
While using the two words, 'concrete' and 'cloth' together may seem completely incongruous, this flexible concrete-impregnated blended fabric is becoming more and more commonplace. The key to this amazing cloth is water, which when combined with the concrete hardens to form a thin but durable water and fireproof concrete layer.
Concrete cloth applications are primarily but not always industrial and include: pipeline protection, roofing, foundation blinding, ditch lining, gabion constructions (made of twisted wire mesh) reinforcement, water tanks, flood defenses, road resurfacing, shotcrete replacement (for slope stabilization) tunnel lining, building cladding, sandbag reinforcement and dust supression.
How is Concrete Cloth made?
Milliken Infrastructure Solutions, LLC (also known as MIS) manufactures Concrete Canvas under license from Concrete Canvas Ltd. This company also manufactures Concrete Cloth which is marketed as Concrete Canvas in their own plant which is located near Cardiff, Wales UK. Their specially designed, highly specialized machinery is used to permeate a custom cement blend with other additives that transform into a 3D synthetic fiber matrix with a PVC (polymerized vinyl chloride, a synthetic resin) coating on one surface. Custom engineered textiles are a company specialty and markets for their products include a cross section of industries ranging from automotive (hoses, airbags, tires), to construction and infratructure (concrete cloth, geo-membranes, duct fabrics and those used for filtration).
Concrete Cloth is for sale ouside of the US and Canada. There are installations in 15 US states and 3 Canadian provinces/territories. Concrete Cloth has received provisional acceptance by 8 state Departments of Transportation for use on DOT projects in those states, and is currently being evaluated in all but a handful of the remaining states.
Is Concrete Cloth better for the environment than conventional poured concrete?
Due to the fact that there is little if any need for cement mixing equipment, reductions in the cost of building when using Concrete Cloth can be as high as 30-50%. In addition, Concrete Cloth reduces the amount of material used in any single project by as much as 95%. This also ameliorates the environmental impact of construction works. In 2010, Concrete Cloth was first approvd by the UK Environment Agency for specific work on the Church Village Bypass Ditch Lining Project. In Europe it has received the Euro-class classification B-s1,d0, which is the highest achievable level for combustible materials. Several other British works have been granted permisssion to use Concrete Cloth, but that is still not the case in North America.
Concrete Cloth is also less damaging to the environment because unlike other cements, it is not classified as an irritant, has a low wash out rate and a limited alkaline reserve.
How much water should be used in creating Concrete Cloth?
Hydration can be achieved using saline or non-saline water that may or may not be suitable for drinking. To determine how much water should be used, the yardstick is by weight with a minimum ratio of water to Concrete Cloth of 1:2. Since there is no such thing as 'over-hydration' when dealing with this fabric, an excess of water is encouraged. If under-hydrated, Concrete Cloth will not reach its full strength and the setting time may be significantly delayed. Water can come from a variety of sources; a water truck which most contractors prefer, pumped water from a nearby source or by rainwater.
Installation of Concrete Cloth
Another positive aspect of Concrete Cloth lies in its versatility when it comes to installation. Due to its unique configuration and because there is no need for molds or mixers it is an easy process. Concrete Cloth wlil bend and curve so that it can easily follow the naural contours of the land. It can even be installed in the rain and can be hung vertically, laid in trenches or cut and formed into shapes to create a durable layer of concrete.
Concrete Cloth may well seem like two words that shouldn't go together, but more and more often they do, and this amazing fabric innovation is altering the landscape of the construction and other important industries.
M Dee Dubroff
Fashion and Technology Blogger