MARCH 2009

New concrete offers lower-cost construction

Cement manufacturing is the fourth largest generator of greenhouse gases, but that may change thanks to a construction method that makes a new concrete without using cement.

New concrete reduces cost by a minimum of 25 percent and is much faster.

A West Virginia Company just patented for a new construction technique that creates concrete using the tensile steel found in everything from used tires to mesh fabrics. This new process provides a tremendous cost-savings to builders for the construction of walls, foundations, site pads, driveways, roadways, dams and levees. But this method also finds a new purpose for one of the world’s most plentiful waste products – tires. Developed by The Reinforced Aggregates Company of Morgantown, West Virginia, Mechanical Concrete combines crushed stone particles into a solid by using a thin cylinder – like you would find in a used tire – into a concrete building block. The process takes advantage of the natural way pieces of gravel and stone flow under pressure to instantly combine small stones into a solid concrete.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded a patent to civil engineer and company founder, Samuel G. Bonasso, who discovered this unique method. “I discovered this idea while looking for a better way to dispose of used tires,” Bonasso said. At the time, Bonasso was Secretary of Transportation for West Virginia and faced disposing a huge backlog of used automobile tires. “What a surprise to find that by removing the side-walls, I could make a mechanical version of concrete. Mechanical Concrete changes how we build with stone. From testing in the lab and with full scale projects, it’s proven to be fast, simple, easy and economical.”

Laboratory tests and field demonstrations of Mechanical Concrete have been conducted at West Virginia University College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, by the West Virginia Division of Highways, private engineers and in the natural resource industry. These projects show that Mechanical Concrete is not only much faster than regular concrete, but it also offers a minimum of 25 percent reduction in cost. “It can be designed to be as strong as necessary to support the desired loads,” Bonasso said. “As an engineered material, its strength depends on the materials selected for the specific use.”