Concrete has been a cornerstone of civil engineering projects for years now. The major benefit with concrete is that it is incredibly flexible in the variety of projects it can be used for. While concrete has gone through some evolution over its history, it has remained relatively consistent. Despite the benefits, there are some issues with traditional concrete which can be overcome through a new concrete solution.
GCCMs, or Geosynthetic Cementitious Composite Mats, have been developed by UK company Concrete Canvas. In contrast to traditional concrete, GCCMs are a fabric filled with a dry concrete mix which is activated through hydrated. Once left to dry, the fabric will form a rigid concrete layer.
When compared to traditional concrete, GCCMs have several benefits which can improve the installation of concrete on civil engineering projects in key areas. Firstly, the speed at which GCCMs are installed in comparison to traditional concrete can make a significant difference in how quickly a project can be completed. The reason GCCMs are so much faster to install is thanks to their design. Because the concrete is contained within the fabric, it only needs to be cut to the size and shape required for the installation area before the fabric can be hydrated. When cutting the fabric, no special training or tools are needed, which also speeds up the process. As the fabric arrives on site as a roll, there is no need to mix any concrete before the installation process can begin. All of these factors combine to make installing the Concrete Canvas fabric up to 10 times faster than a traditional concrete solution.
Controlling the overall cost of a civil engineering project is vital. It doesn’t matter if it’s a privately funded or government project, ensuring the costs are kept within budget is crucial. Using GCCMs is one way of lowering the overall cost of a civil engineering project. Because of the ease of installation, there is no need for mixer trucks or a large crew to pour or spray the concrete. When using Concrete Canvas’ CC8 (8mm thick GCCM), a single lorry load can be used in place of thirty-four 17-ton mixer trucks.
The other significant benefit of GCCMs is that they are more environmentally friendly than traditional sprayed or poured concrete. Not only are GCCMs low mass and low carbon, but they also use up to 95% less material than traditional concrete solutions. Furthermore, because the concrete filled fabric is specifically cut to size, waste is greatly reduced if not eliminated. In comparison with sprayed concrete, there can be a significant amount of waste from concrete back spray, for example. Not only can this waste be environmentally harmful but also financially wasteful.
Overall, GCCMs are changing the way civil engineering projects are completed around the world. Concrete Canvas Ltd’s material has been used in mining and rail projects, amongst others, for erosion control applications such as channel lining. The range of applications for GCCMs makes it highly likely their popularity will continue to increase in the coming years.