Arup cements concretene deal
The multi-disciplinary consultancy will work with the material’s developer, Nationwide Engineering Research and Development, to explore how the built environment can best utilise graphene-enhanced concrete.
Conretene was created by NERD and the University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre. Concretene is estimated to be capable of reducing carbon emissions by 30% in building projects by reducing the amount of concrete needed. Concretene also can help contractors save time by drastically reducing drying time – it achieves 28-day strength just 12 hours after being poured.
Arup has taken a 4.2% stake in NERD through a sweat equity deal. As part of the exchange, Arup will work with NERD on how to roll out the material globally. Arup will also assist NERD in its ambition to fully roll out concretene for commercial use over the next three years.
“Continued innovation in the production of concrete can drive the construction industry’s journey towards net zero carbon emissions,” said Arup director Matt Lovell.
“Supporting that transformative change with our NERD partnership furthers Arup’s goal of shaping a better, more sustainable world,” Lovell continued.
“We look forward to using our commercial know-how and deep expertise in the built environment to help NERD’s innovators realise the full potential of concretene.”
The NERD-Arup deal comes on the heels of another partnership for the company. NERD has also committed to a 5% equity swap with Black Swan Graphene, a Canadian-based manufacturer of the graphene powder that is used to create concretene. Black Swan will be increasing its graphene output to help supply the material required by NERD.
Simon Marcotte, president and chief executive of Black Swan, described the deals between his company, NERD, and Arup as having “far-reaching implications for the global concrete industry”.
He continued: “By leveraging the exceptional performance of the NERD process and Arup’s expertise, reach, and leadership, this integrated supply chain can provide a turnkey solution and revolutionize the concrete industry on a global scale.
“Considering that concrete is the second-most-utilized material on Earth, surpassed only by water, it is difficult to imagine a more exciting opportunity. I am very optimistic about the impact of this collaboration and its potential to catalyse sustainable and innovative practices in the industry.”
NERD is already working with project partners Heathrow and Manchester airports, Network Rail, National Highways, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to conduct large-scale field trials to improve the product’s reproducibility, cost profile, and reliability.
Substantial headway is currently being made on the cost profile of concretene. While at MIPIM, NERD chief operating officer Mike Harrison described how the cost of the material is set to drop from thousands of pounds per kilogram, to below £100/kg over the next few months.
Concretene may not be the only material NERD develops. The company has a long-term research collaboration deal with the University of Manchester to explore the different uses of graphene.
Rob Hibberd, NERD’s chief executive, said: “We see concretene as the first product of many that this partnership will develop, with progress in paints, polymers, and asphalt already in advanced stages as well.”