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Studying Non-Metallics in Concrete to Improve Sustainability

ACI/Youtube ACI President Jeffrey W. Coleman
NEx projects are seeking to increase understanding of how to use non-metallic building materials. Some of those projects include the include the study of the use of high dosage of admixtures on concrete durability.

The industry is increasing its focus on sustainable missions, and new organizations like NEx reflect an increased commitment with materials that can offer new possibilities. NEx, an ACI Center of Excellence for Non-Metallic Building Materials, is growing its supporting membership, so we’re taking a closer look at what NEx is and why the industry should take notice.

Why non-metallics matter...

The incorporation of non-metallic materials can contribute to the resilience and sustainability of a structure, according to NEx.

“NEx is kind of the new kid on the block,” said Jerzy Zemajtis, executive director of NEx. Zemajtis said the term “non-metallic building materials” is a category that remains largely undefined.

“It’s not really well defined per se, but there are some low-hanging fruits—let put it this way,” he said. “We are not a trade organization, so it’s not that we are looking after products.”

Can non-metallics make a difference?

NEx projects are seeking to increase understanding of how to use non-metallic building materials. Some of those projects include the study of the use of carbon fibers in civil infrastructure and investigating high dosages of admixtures on concrete durability. That project seeks to understand how to reduce cement content and water-cement ratio with a controlled concrete design.

“Expanded incorporation of non-metallic materials and products in the built environment will improve sustainability, contribute to a lower carbon footprint, and enhance the durability and longevity of structures,” said Jeffrey Coleman, the president of ACI. “The center’s initial activities will focus on the use of non-metallic materials and products in concrete.”

Aramco Americas, the U.S.-based subsidiary of Aramco, is the founding partner of NEx. Since its founding, the non-profit has signed additional collaborations, including with Canadian-based rebar manufacturer MST Rebar Inc. When it comes to the use of non-metallic building materials, Zemajtis said there’s still not enough information.

He said durability and carbon footprint are two aspects that will be studied more regarding non-metallics.

Zemajtis said that while there are a lot of unknowns he is open to the challenges that come with his role. He said the recent infrastructure spending bill will benefit the entire construction industry, which could result in the use of more non-metallics. Zemajtis said NEx will continue reacting to the needs of contractors, homeowners and specifying agencies when it comes to the use of non-metallic building materials.

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