An Iowa State University center that studies concrete is getting a 10-million dollar piece of the 286-billion dollar federal transportation bill recently approved by Congress. Tom Cackler, the director of the concrete technology center, says the money will help them continue their research efforts to improve concrete.He says right now they’re involved in projects to look at the surface characteristics of concrete and how to make them quieter and more durable. Cackler says the demands on concrete have changed dramatically. He says the performance expectations of the public agencies that use concrete have increased. He says they used to design roadways to last 20 to 25 years and now they’re looking at how to increase performance to 40, 50 or 60 years. Cackler says the biggest change in the last 50 years involves the materials used to make concrete. He says it’s very common now to look at materials such as fly ash, granulated blast furnace slags, silica fumes and other industrial byproducts that he says if used properly and greatly increase the performance of concretes. Cackler says they’ll look at a lot of things such as better ways to design concrete mixes, improving the restoration and preservation of pavement, developing techniques to monitor concrete quality during construction. He says they look very hard at the bottom line to make concrete perform better and be a better value to the public. Cackler says the federal money will be used to leverage additional research funding from the pavement industry and state transportation departments. Cackler says the center has about 12 employees working on the research.
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