Thoughts on the Engineering Industry

A blog covering engineering, technology and business topics

Archive for the category “Energy”

Incorporating Engineering into Government to Improve National Programs

Hello everyone, I hope y’all have been doing well.  Today I would like discuss ways to improve our country by involving engineers and engineering concepts in the management of our national systems.  I have narrowed it down what I believe to be the 5 basic ideas.  As a reference, I have used data and assertions made by Evan Twarog in an article describing the role technocracy in China.

1) Become more technocratic in regards to politics

Data shows that the government is mostly run by engineers in China and in the government in the US is mostly run by lawyers.  In addition, Chinese people believe that knowledgeable elite should run the government which led to a technocracy being a part of the political system.  Based on the way government seems to operate in the US, I could see a shift towards the concept technocracy being beneficial for the U.S. as well.  Especially considering some of the issues that confront us, such the deterioration of the infrastructure, climate change, drought in various areas through out the country, and the production of energy in regards oil, wind, solar, etc.  A technocracy provides the critical knowledge and skill sets to properly deal with these issues.

2) Any problem can be solved with an engineering mindset

Engineers have a unique skill set that allows them to solve problems through a standard process.  On a personal level, I apply this mindset to difficult decisions in my life.  I bet you a lot of engineers say the same thing.  I don’t know about them but it works well for me.  And when considering the successes and failures of both China and the U.S., a correlation between the application of technology and the engineering mindset can be observed.  A good example of that in the U.S. is the space program and national arms race in general.  It is this correlation that leads to believe that the engineering problem solving mindset would be a good framework to apply to struggling government processes and programs.

3) An education in a technological field is more respected by society

For years, the culture in China has valued being technologically informed.  This means that changes in the direction of the country are more easily understood and communicated to the masses.  This is not to say there aren’t people capable of doing that here in the U.S., but there still seems to be a large portion of the political system that caters to the lowest common denominator instead of embracing the intelligence of the U.S. population.

4) Some projects need support from the government to succeed

A lot of the great engineering accomplishments require a large amount resources to back them up.  There are very few people and companies that can fully implement these systems.  This means that if there is some technology or engineering program that would improve our country and it is sufficiently large enough that it would be difficult for private organizations, government should not be afraid to step in and help.  If applied with an engineering problem solving mindset and backed by an informed public, these projects should benefit the country overall.

5) Export your technology for economic profit

This is where the practicality of investing money in solving these problems is realized.  In a perfect world, providing infrastructure and services to improve the lives of people is enough.  But government cannot be expected keeping doing so if it cannot be maintained as far as resources are concerned.  This means that sharing the technology nets the government money which can be used to further improve in other areas.  Business concepts like public-private partnerships were designed to improve profits and gains for the country through the development of these infrastructure and service ideas.  If we can keep this end goal in mind, it can ensure that all government systems improve the country socially and economically.

What is your opinion on these 5 concepts?  Is there anything you would add or take away and why?  If you enjoyed reading the blog post, be sure to like the post and share it with your friends.  Thanks for your time and have a good week!

Source

“The Three Gorges Dam, Why China is Run by Engineers”, Twarog, Evan, Atomic Insights, April 13, 2015, http://goo.gl/sZf3Zn

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What does it truly mean to be an expert?

Hello everyone! I hope y’all had a good week.  Today I just wanted to share a quote I read online that describes what it means to be an expert in a field of study.  The quote is from Pablo Picasso: “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

Pablo Picasso is well known for his abstract art that was definitely considering breaking the rules at the time.  Yet he was a legitimately good artist, which means he was technically a professional painter.  It initially seems like a a quote anecdotally reference to his views as an artist. However, if you dig a bit deeper into what is really beings said, it can be applied to a lot of different fields of study.  Think about a business man.  He might have some issues in selling a product.  There is probably a standard process that is followed to resolve the standard issues, but in this case it might not apply.  Therefore, by knowing the rules, he knows when is the right time to break them to achieve the results he desires.  It can be applied to engineering or science type stuff as well.  Every new break through in science and engineering occurred because some who would be considered a pro and studied in their field made a connection that hadn’t been made before.  They succeeded because they went against the norm (“broke the rules”) at the right time and discovered a way to improve a product, project or application.  So with this greater concept in mind, it becomes clear that an expert in any field of study knows not only when to follow the standard rules in a given situation, but also when those rules don’t apply and another solution needs to be found.

With that being said, I am going to leave you guys with this thought and hopefully you can implement it well in your career or life general – never get so caught up in the rules that you forget to break them when it comes time to do so.  As I have told many people before about my job, I have a lot of boring days where people wonder why I need my degree and other technical skill sets to do my job.  However, that knowledge informs me when a serious situation could come up that needs to be addressed, and I used that knowledge to prevent any further issues.  How do you guys interpret the quote?  Is there a particular story and event that describes your opinion?  If you enjoyed reading, like the post and share it with your friends.  Thanks for your time and have a good week!

Image Source

“Problem-solving is the Problem”, Florian Totu, blog.opteemum.net, August 10, 2012, http://goo.gl/YNzbI4

Tax incentives for promoting renewable energy production

Hello everyone, I hope your week is going well.  Today I would like to look at a topic that is less technical and a more political – how to implement tax incentives that promote sustainable energy production.  I believe that this is a topic that gets over-politicized and some information needs to be shared in an objective way.

Currently, there are a lot of subsidies provided to oil companies.  According to Oil Change International, the subsidies range from $10 to $52 million annually in the US.  Internationally, the subsidies are somewhere between $775 billion and $1 trillion.  As of July 2014, Oil Change International estimates this years subsidies to be about $35 billion.  $2.4 billion of those subsidies go to the big 5 oil companies in the form of federal tax deductions: BP, Exxon, Chevron, Shell, and ConocoPhillips.  Subsidies also go to “independent” oil companies which, which are larger operations than the name implies.  These companies produce about 50% of the oil.  The rest of the subsidies are earned through loans or aid certain types of operations such gas exploration and production at an estimate value of $18.5 billion on the federal level and $21.6 billion on the state level.  After that, there are consumption subsidies which amount to $11 billion.  Along with the subsidies, infrastructure loans are provided to the companies which amount to about $4.7 billion.  It shouldn’t be noted that the article goes on to recommend that these subsidies be reduced and also outlines roadway maintenance and health concerns.  That being said, I am trying to keep the references focused on the raw data in this section.

In comparison, the subsidies for renewable energy are lower.  A report by Nancy Pfund and Ben Healey shows that the renewable energy has a lower initial investment and projected investment over a 30 year span overall.  The historical average of annual subsidies of renewable energy is $370 million as compared to $4.86 billion for oil and gas, $3.5 billion of nuclear and $1.08 billion for biofuel.  Interestingly enough, nuclear had far greater initial investment than the other forms of energy; however, safety concerns caused there to be a large reduction those investments.

My current opinion is that we need to strip away a lot of the “blank check” type subsidies.  While there are probably subsidies for every industry that could fit in this category, the worst offender in this regard is the oil and gas industry.  I also think that some practicality is warranted too.  In my opinion, oil and gas will still always be the best option for hauling goods across the country for the next couple of decades.  Renewables can’t provide the efficiency needed and other tech such as nuclear is not scaleable enough for that yet.  For electric power production, I believe renewables can’t completely fill that gap either and stable energy production is needed for peak hours.  With all that being said, a balanced merit system needs to be applied to energy subsidies to produce the most sustainable energy infrastructure possible.

What is your opinion on how to best subsidize energy industry?  What is your opinion on the current state of subsidies?  If you enjoyed reading this post, like this post and share it.  Thanks for reading have a good day.

Sources

“Fossil Fuel Subsidies”, Oil Change International, 2014, http://goo.gl/BYdMg

Nancy Pfund and Ben Healey, “What Would Jefferson Do?: The Historical Role of Federal Subsidies in Shaping America’s Energy Future”, September 2011, http://goo.gl/XuioTH

Image Source

Roger H. Bezdek and Robert M. Wendling, “Energy Subsidy Myths and Realities”, June 2012, http://goo.gl/A8Ws96

Growth of the “Forgotten” Renewable Energy

Hello, I hope everyone is doing well.  Today, I would like to discuss a recent growth in geothermal energy.  Geothermal energy uses the power of water heated to steam temperatures to spin turbines that produce electricity.  Geothermal energy is sometimes described as the “forgotten” renewable because it is by far the least popular and well known renewable energy compared to wind and solar.  Furthermore, geothermal energy only produces 1% percent of electrical power worldwide according to the World Energy Outlook.  However, geothermal energy is growing as drilling for oil  and natural gas increases.  The Geothermal Energy Association reports that geothermal resources grew by about 4% to 5% recently.

Interest in the geothermal industry is growing internationally as well as domestically and international development banks are helping to finance these projects.  According to Maria Richards at SMU, “If you’re  wildcatting for geothermal, Africa is really of those parts of the world where we seem to be going…”  Large projects are also planned for Indonesia and some Central/South American countries as well as East Africa.  In addition, the Ring of Fire is a current hot spot for new production because it has high temperatures relatively close to the earth’s surfaces.

There are several benefits to the use of geothermal energy.  Compared to other electric power production methods, geothermal energy can heat and cool homes at lower temperatures.  This source can also be used to produce energy consistently 24 hours day, unlike the other renewables which are intermittent in nature.  This could also be a good alternative source of energy for countries, like Kenya and El Salvador, that rely heavily on hydroelectric energy.

However, there are disadvantages to geothermal energy as well.  Research has found that 50% to 60% of a typical geothermal drilling project is up front with a 10% to 30% chance that the drilling will be unsuccessful.  Richards sums it up best with this observation: “You can put out a meter and measure easily how much wind and solar is at a site.  You can get real data.”  But it is “much harder to understand” how much geothermal hot water is available in a certain area.

The recent developments of oil and gas have allowed for increased research in this field though.  The drilling has allowed researchers to improve data on temperature, water availability and seismic data.  Furthermore, the researchers at SMU hope to incorporate previously drilled oil and gas wells, like the Huabei oil field near Beijing, to produce small scale geothermal power.  Countries that are trying to reduce their reliance on traditional fuels are the ones pursuing this research most actively.  China is trying to increase their geothermal production to reduce their smog and ease reliance on traditional fuels for their growing population.  Munich, Germany is hoping to obtain all its heating from renewables by 2025 and plans on most of it being geothermal. It is also predicted that many more places around the Ring of Fire will develop geothermal energy faster than other locations as research continues.

I am interested to see how this industry grows with the development of this research.  It is my opinion that this energy has the potential to fill the gap that other renewables have in regards to consistent energy production.  Furthermore, the knowledge gained from oil and gas drilling, as well as the previously drilled wells, could greatly reduce the up front costs.  What is your opinion on this renewable resource? What are your predictions for the future of this industry?  Be sure to follow me and share this article if you enjoyed it.  Thanks for your time and have a good week!

Reference:

Galbraith, Kate, “Geothermal Industry Grows, With Help From Oil and Gas Drilling”, New York Times Online, July 23, 2014, http://goo.gl/ixL318 

Benefits of BIM Modeling in Project Pricing for Head Contractors and Subcontractors

     Hello.  How is everyone doing?  Today I would like to discuss the statistical breakdown of the benefits in project pricing BIM modeling can provide for the head contractors and subcontractors involved in the design process.  BIM modeling is something that is collectively touted by most innovators in the building and infrastructure design/build field.  However, it would be helpful to understand who has the most motivation to implement improved BIM modeling.  As stated by David Mitchell, “For different types of projects the people you need to engage, changes. We need to acknowledge that the savings arising out of a building project differs significantly to those of a civil or resource project.  There also needs to be an appreciation of when a construction contract or subcontract is formed as well as the type of construction contract that has been entered into.”  Therefore, the issue is approached in regards to those factors.

For a commercial scale building project, the indirect cost such as design and overhead management amounts to 17% as compared to 83% for the construction costs.  In addition, the ratio of margins between subcontractors and contractors is 7 to 1.  Therefore, it benefits the subcontractors the most to apply the BIM modeling.  However, when a civil project is considered, the head contractor sees most of the benefits because subcontractors only control 17% of the costs.  The resource sector has some interesting statistics as well.  First of all, for a pipeline, the indirect cost is far greater at 45% of the cost going to head contractors.  In addition, the head contractor owns the material production plant/labor and the resulting cost accounts for 83% percent of the other 55% which amounts to an additional 46% of the direct cost and 91% of the overall cost.  Therefore, in this case, the head contractor holds a large portion of the cost control.  However, when building a refinement plant there are some critical differences.  There is a similar level of indirect cost cost at 45%, but the subcontractor sees 88% of the direct cost in this case.  The result is the subcontractor seeing 48% of the cost of the project as compared to 9% in the previous example.

The above statistics are interesting for several reasons.  The first one, as stated in the article, is the fact that BIM modeling is implemented by head contractor and other associated designers; yet in some cases, the subcontractors see the benefits.  Seeing as changes in pricing are based on estimation based on previous projects, pricing benefits aren’t planned for in the budget as efficiently, and, depending on the project and head contractor, a subcontractor could see large and consistent benefits.  This means that the benefits of using BIM might not be maximized aside from time and documentation for the head contractor in that situation.  And if it is a case where head contractors see a large amount of the cost savings, they can more readily pass along the cost saving of BIM modeling. But the subcontractors may not be motivated to help improve the BIM modeling because it doesn’t help their bottom line.  For both of these reason, it makes sense why it is most common for head contractors and designers to push for improvements and BIM modeling.  However, an often overlooked requirement is that the subcontractor needs to work with the head contractor in implementing the improvements and have proper motivation to pass along the savings the see the full benefit for everyone involved with the project.

What is your opinion on BIM model implementation in regards to subcontractors and head contractors?  Are there any ways to promote a shared interest in BIM modeling?  Thanks for your time and have a good week!

High Performance Energy Saving Design for the Karuna House – Window/Door Design

Passive House Green Home Building Tips: Karuna House Windows & Doors

Hello everyone! Today I would like to go back to my series of posts outlining the design and construction of the Karuna House.  The topic for this post will be the selection and resulting benefits of the improved windows and doors.  Windows and doors are the biggest holes in the building envelope above ground.  These innovations are what allow the HVAC systems to reach their maximum efficiency.  Additionally, windows and doors are also a major aesthetic concern and these aesthetic factors play a big role in the decision process.

The Karuna House uses triple glazed, high solar heat gain, R-8 windows with a very thin frame.  This type of window has an increased level of heat gain, but significantly improves the building envelope by allowing additional insulation to be placed around the frame.  The triple glazed window also has a well documented performance history because it has been in use since the 70’s in Scandinavia.  For the exterior doors, the Karuna House uses Optiwin doors.  These doors are thick with insulation in the middle and airtight with multi-locking mechanisms to ensure a tight seal.  To help with the heat gain issue for the windows, a shading system that can be lowered over the windows was installed.  This has an additional benefit of being modern and aesthetically appealing.  The triple glazing also provides a very clear view through the glass which adds to the modern, aesthetic appeal.  To further improve indoor conditions, these windows and doors increase comfort by reducing the draft found near the window and door openings.  All of the benefits above combine to reduce the impact on the mechanical systems which allows for a simpler, more efficient system to be used.

Overall these systems are simple and nothing too complex.  However, these systems apply the same philosophy that is applied to the building envelope in general – simple and efficient solutions to problems.  Furthermore, the philosophy applied to the building envelope, windows, and doors altogether should reap a lot of benefits for the mechanical systems and the energy usage correlated to that.  The take away here is very similar to the previous post on the Karuna House – a little a effort put into finding cost efficient improvements to small elements of the house can improve the overall efficiency a lot.

What do you think about the window and door improvements on the Karuna House?  Are there any issues that need to be addressed or  improvements that can be made?  Thanks for your time and have a good week!

Resource:

Hammer & Hand,”Karuna House: Windows and Doors”, http://goo.gl/j7zAAy

High Performance Energy Saving Design for the Karuna House – Wall System

Passive House Green Home Building Tips: Karuna House Wall Assembly

Hello everyone.  I hope your weekend went well.  Everything is picking up for me again – my day job and school included.  Not in a stressful way though; it feels good to be doing some productive stuff again.  Today, I want share the second part of my series of post describing the design of the Karuna House and the topic this time around will be the wall system.

As stated in the article, the main issues in designing the wall were moisture, heat and air control.  Along with that, this design added the other standard of being able to release moisture once it entered the system as well.  With that in mind, the main goal of the wall design was to create a building envelope that was air tight, water tight, vapor permeable and super insulated.  On the inside of the wall, standard natural lime coating and dry wall were used for interior design purposes.  Beneath that, a stud frame of engineered wood members was built to support the wall structure and was insulated with high density cellulose.   The high density cellulose consisted of recycled newspaper and naturally buffered against moisture which improved the walls durability.  After that, there was the air barrier which prevented air from flowing through the wall and allowed the insulation to perform at a much higher level.  The air barrier was created using plywood coated with vapor permeable liquid applied membrane.  After that level, a frame of Z Joists with foil faced Polyiso Foam was placed over that.  This element was the critical part of the design in regards to performance and durability.  The final element was the rain screen system made out of cedar siding placed 1 inch off of the Polyiso Foam.  Window frames were sealed using Joint Seam Filler and Fast Flash around the window structure.  Details aren’t provided about door frames but it would be a reasonable assumption that they did the same thing there as well.

In my opinion, the design of the wall framing system isn’t as unique as the foundation system.  It has been standard practice for a while to use foam insulation and air barriers.  The same goes for the window sealant process.  However, the attention to detail in what to use and how to apply it is still a good take away for building design in the future.

What is your opinion on the wall frame system?  Is there any improvement they could have made that would have increased energy efficiency?  Thanks for your time and have a good week! 🙂

Source:

Hammer and Hand, “The Karuna House: Wall Assembly”, http://goo.gl/sHU7kv

High Performance Energy Saving Design for the Karuna House Part 1 – Foundation Design

     Hello everyone! I hope your holiday break went well.  I had a fun time with my family and definitely felt like I recharged my batteries as well. Hopefully you guys could do the same.  Today I want to start a series of blog posts on a detailed overview of the high performance systems used in the Karuna House created by Holst Architecture and Hammer & Hand.

The Karuna House is a house designed to meet Passive House standards, Minergie-P-ECO, and Platinum LEED Home Standards.  The client is a leading proponent of high performance design technology for climate control.  This house is intended to be a case study in the usage of the current technology on the market today.  In the first part of this blog post series, I am going to discuss the design of the foundation and the energy saving technology applied in that part of the design.

The main concern for the foundation involved insulating the basement and foundation.  With that in mind, most of the technology focuses on maintaining a good quality building envelope that insulates well.  The first step was the cut and fill for the excavation.  In this step, the cut was balanced with the fill to ensure that there wasn’t a need to haul around aggregate to complete the fill process.  For the next step, an Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) geofoam foundation insulation was placed around the cut and fill earthwork before the concrete foundation was constructed.  Next, the footings beneath the structure were placed and a moisture blocking capillery break material was placed on top of that.  Once the footings were in place, gravel fill was placed for the foundation base and the basement foundation wall was constructed with a vapor barrier extending to both sides of the wall.  The concrete mix used in the basement foundation wall consisted of 30% fly ash and used locally sourced aggregate.  In order to obtain better energy efficiency, EPS was placed in critical thermal bridge sections.  Along the foundation walls, a product called a drain board was applied to it’s surface as well to allow water to flow down the foundation walls and past the footings.  Once all that was completed, they applied the vapor barrier over the gravel base and laid some more EPS foam before they constructed the slab portion of the foundation.

My take away from reading the article and watching the videos is that there are two critical issues that affect house foundations – moisture control and thermal bridging.  The designers used the EPS and vapor barriers to address these issues.  Along with that, methods of construction were used that reduce the use of energy/material in construction as well.  Overall, I think this was a good application of some practical design ideas.  A lot of designs like this get caught up in following the latest complex and cool looking trend instead of finding a solid and fundamental solution to the problem – this design avoids that fairly well.

What are your thoughts on the design?  Does it seem like a practical application to use for increased energy efficiency?  Any issues you worry about over it’s life cycle?  Thanks for your time and have a good week! 🙂

Source:

Hammer and Hand, “The Karuna House: Foundation System”, http://goo.gl/C9Hccu

Advancements in Resilient Timber Design

Hello everyone. I hope y’all are doing well.  I’m looking forward to Christmas and I hope you are too.  Just in case I decide to not do a post before Christmas I just want to wish y’all a Merry Christmas.  Today I want to talk about some advancements in timber design taking place in the multi-family residential building industry in California.

In California, residential structures can be vulnerable to seismic loads – especially if there is an open floor plan on the bottom.  Engineering professor John van de Lint from Colorado State University has been leading a team of researchers in that specific area of study as it pertains to first floor garages.  He has previously completed similar research with Simpson Strong Tie in 2009 in regards to natural disasters and it led to the consideration of timber for mid-rise structures with high seismic loads.  According to Lint, “Earthquakes are particularly damaging to buildings with open spaces at street level because they collapse – the first-floor parking makes the building structurally weak and soft…There are tens of thousands of these multi-family buildings throughout California and much of the U.S., making this a serious safety issue.”  The team has tested several concepts for earthquake retrofitting on structures designed to replicate common California architectural practices.

A common characteristic among all the models they tested is a timber frame structure with an open structure on the first floor and a purely timber structure on the upper floors.  Some of the retrofits followed the FEMA P-807 guideline because that is the current retrofit requirement in California.  This law requires that buildings with a soft story be retrofitted within the next several years.   One of the retrofits tested is cross laminated timber.  In this test, the shear walls are constructed with cross laminated timber and the floor diaphram is reinforced using plywood and attached to the shear walls using Simpson Strong Tie straps and clips.  The test was successful up to 50% Maximum Credible Earthquake (MCE).

The article also mentions some innovations for dealing with harsher environments.  In locations with more humidity and rain, protection from the elements can be a critical issue for timber frames.  Huber Engineered Woods has developed a material called ZIP System R Sheathing for the construction of walls where protecting the structure against the elements is critical.  This is currently the first product of it’s kind to be approved by the International Building Code.  This sheathing provides protection against bulk water, thermal, air and moisture resistance while being strong and durable.  The sheathing also provides increased energy efficiency for HVAC systems.  This system has advantages over regular plywood or oriented strand board in harsher climates because an additional layer of house wrap and hurricane clips is not required.

Both of these improvements may seem a bit generic at first.  In fact, the more I think about the descriptions above, the more I think of an advertisement pamphlet you might get from a timber supplier.  However, it is my opinion that these are significant advancements for the future of timber usage.  These two situations above are textbook reasons for the usage of a material other than timber for taller buildings in these seismic or weather critical locations.  With the proper implementation of these advancements in the future, the use of timber can be expanded to a larger variety of locations.  The only major drawbacks I see are the increased cost of using the materials and the necessity for contractors with experience implementing these designs.

Do you see these products changing the use of timber on a larger scale?  If so, how and why?  If not, what is the critical issue that has to be overcome?  Thanks for your time and have a good week!

Resources

Zweig, Christina, “Resiliant Wood: New Wood Products Help Cope with Nature’s Challenges”, Structural Engineer Magazine, November, 2013, http://goo.gl/NoJT9Z

Concrete without Cement: Creative Usage of Other Materials in Concrete

Hello, I hope everyone is doing well. There isn’t anything new going on with me – just the usual stuff.  I am finally making progress on the graduation paperwork which is good.  It would be nice to officially finish my school stuff.  Today I want to talk to you about an article I read about a structure made with concrete mix that doesn’t use cement.

This is the link to the article: http://goo.gl/7z0B7f.

The building being discussed is the Global Change Institute (GCI) building for the University of Queensland.  In trying to achieve better sustainability, Hassel in collaboration Bligh Tanner, Arup, and Medland Metropolis has used a what they call a geopolymer precast concrete which replaces cement with fly ash.  The brand name for this mixture is called Earth Friendly Concrete (EFC) and was applied in 33 precast floor beams of the GCI building.  The mixture is comprised of sand, aggregate, and a binder containing blast furnace slag and fly ash.  The removal of cement greatly reduces the carbon dioxide emissions in the creation of the concrete as a whole.  In order to further increase their sustainability, hydroponic pipes were added to the floor beams as well to improve low energy and passive cooling modes.  Bligh Tanner’s director believes this will improve the carbon emissions created by the cement production, estimated to currently be 8% of the carbon emission in construction projects.  Before this, EFC has only been used in low level applications such as ground bearing pavements and masonry blocks.  The concrete also has faster curing times which decreases production and construction costs as well.  The different chemistry also has the following benefits: low shrinkage, low heat of reaction (reduces thermal cracks), 30% higher flexural tensile strength, and higher durability.

This sounds like a good innovation in concrete design in regards to carbon emission reduction.  Blast furnace slag and fly ash have been used a long time in the creation of concrete to improve cost and production efficiency since the most difficult material to create for concrete is cement.  Along with that, there is the benefit of making use of waste from steel production plants and coal fire power plants.  However, I worry about the lack of history with the usage of this material.  Over the lifetime of the structure, we don’t know how well the binder will hold up.  Also, there might be other issues with chemical reactions over time due to elements in nature.  It has taken lots of studies and years of observations with regular concrete to discover and address the chemical issues such as salt.  Upon further research, I have also read that concrete mixtures with fly ash has been shown to have higher occurrences of sulfate degradation.  In light of these unknowns, caution should be used in my opinion.

What is your opinion on this new concrete mixture? Have you heard or read about anything else like the innovations mentioned above?  I am also rusty on my chemistry in regards to concrete, is there anything else that needs to be considered in analyzing the possible chemical degradation issues? Thank you for your time and have a good week!

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