UNK Researchers testing corn to strengthen concrete

Published: Dec. 10, 2018 at 11:21 PM CST
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Billions of dollars are spent each year repairing, rebuilding and replacing roads and bridges.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska, Kearney are looking at ways to strengthen our roads, using corn.

More than &65 billion dollars is spent on road each year, potholes in streets, cracks in roadways and bridges deteriorating, all costing tax payers money.

With Nebraska producing than 1.6 billion bushels of corn each year, there is an endless supply of leftover stalks, leaves and husks that researchers can use for testing.

"We take corn stover, burn it, turn it into ash and then the ash is used as a substitute in cement for fly ash, which is a by-product of coal," said Jim Vaux, UNK Department Chair, Industrial Technology.

The process is still in early testing stages but these researchers are excited about the progress so far.

"It is a very promising material, we are still working on the process and trying other methods to improve the quality of the ash we get at the end," said Mahmoud Shakouri, Assistant Professor, UNK, Construction Management.

Roads are in a constant of needing repair as salt and other deicers trigger corrosion.

The corn stover has to burn for about an hour.

UNK Student, Cameron Geiger adds, "it's an exciting time, if i can be a part of this, it would just be incredible and it will save a lot of money."

$200 billion of federal funding has been allocated towards projects that can repair or replace aging roads.