The following essay is reprinted with permission from The Conversation, an online publication covering the latest research.
Infrastructure supports and facilitates our daily lives—think of the roads we drive on, the bridges and tunnels that help transport people and freight, the office buildings where we work and the dams that provide the water we drink. But it’s no secret that American infrastructure is aging and in desperate need of rehabilitation.
Concrete structures, in particular, suffer from serious deterioration. Cracks are very common due to various chemical and physical phenomena that occur during everyday use. Concrete shrinks as it dries, which can cause cracks. It can crack when there’s movement underneath or thanks to freeze/thaw cycles over the course of the seasons. Simply putting too much weight on it can cause fractures. Even worse, the steel bars embedded in concrete as reinforcement can corrode over time.