Concrete substitute trialled on £1.5bn Manchester project

By Dan Colombini14 October 2021

Concretene Pour Mayfield The use of Concretene on the Mayfield Regeneration Scheme is the first commercial use of the product. ©Mark Waugh

A new low-emission concrete substitute has been trialled as part of the £1.5 billion Mayfield regeneration scheme in Manchester, UK.

Described as an “enhanced concrete” and incorporating a 2D material called graphene, Concretene is said to be a cheaper and better performing alternative to concrete, that reduces carbon emissions by up to 30%.

The newly-developed material is being used by UK-based firm U+I; a specialist regeneration developer and one of the partner companies on the Mayfield Regeneration Scheme, to create a suspended slab floor for one of the scheme’s public attractions.

The Concretene slab will form the new 54 x 14-metre mezzanine floor for the Escape to Freight Island roller disco attraction within Depot Mayfield.

Compared to a tradition concrete solution, it is estimated that the new Concretene slab will provide a CO2 reduction of 4,265kg. 

Concretene Pour Mayfield The Concretene is being poured to form a 54 x 14-metre suspended slab of a mezzanine floor. ©Mark Waugh

The material was developed by the University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) and Nationwide Engineering - a company co-founded by Alex McDermott; a civil engineering graduate from the university.

According to its developers, the addition of the graphene to the concrete produces just 6.3kg of CO2 per tonne of concrete – 21.94kg per tonne less than concrete that incorporates traditional steel reinforcement. 

The incorporation of graphene, which is extracted from graphite and can also be derived from other carbon-containing materials such as recycled plastics or biomass, means that Concrete is also claimed to cut drying time from 28 days to just 12 hours.

Alex McDermott, co-founder of Nationwide Engineering, said, “Today is a huge milestone for the team, as not only is this our first commercial use of Concretene, but also the first suspended slab as used in high rise developments.

Concretene Pour Mayfield The concrete alternative is said to reduce carbon emissions by up to 30%. ©Mark Waugh

“As world leaders in Graphene Enhanced Concrete technology, the interest from the international building industry has been beyond expectations, as looming legislation is forcing significant carbon reductions throughout construction.

“Our partnership with the University has fast-tracked the development of Concretene, going from lab to product in 18 months.” 

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