NuGen Properties

Concretene wins £1.25m grant funding

Concrete technician Abayomi Adebari tests a beam in the materials lab

Concretene – the name of the product and the company – has won three UK government funding bids: two through Innovate UK, totalling £1.18m, and a £79,000 award from the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials for £79k.

Concretene has been developed by Nationwide Engineering Research & Development (NERD) in partnership with the University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC). It uses graphene to add strength to concrete, thereby reducing the amount of cement and steel require.

After several years of research and development, and two years since its first real-world concrete pour in an Amesbury gym, it is now being developed for commercial roll-out.

One Innovate UK bid was submitted via the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme (£300,000), the other in response to a call for ‘resource efficiency for materials and manufacturing’ (£888,000). 

 The KTP is designed to widen the scope of applications for Concretene beyond the range of cements and aggregates used in demonstrator projects to date, widening the market potential for the technology.

The resource efficiency funding is aimed at delivering consistency and repeatability in chemical constituents of the admixture.

Industrial collaborators on the project are William Blythe, Accrington-based manufacturer of inorganic speciality chemicals and advanced materials, and Thomas Swan & Co, Consett-based speciality chemical manufacturer and founder of Black Swan Graphene, the supplier of graphene nanoplatelets to Concretene. Black Swan Graphene is also an equity partner of Concretene.

The award through the Henry Royce Institute is a co-application with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) to explore ‘morphology of graphene in aqueous solutions’, worth £79,000, funded by the EPSRC.

Alex McDermott, co-founder and chief development officer of Concretene, said: “Our success with these awards is part of the growing momentum around Concretene and shows its potential to be a game-changer in lowering embodied carbon in construction.

“We’re seeing real interest from government in helping us to scale and commercialise the technology for industry roll-out, adding high-value jobs in advanced materials and de-risking supply chain involvement in R&D.

“Our work with the University of Manchester, the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre and our project partners has shown how academia and industry can collaborate effectively and accelerate innovative products to market.”  

James Baker, chief executive of Graphene@Manchester and professor of practice at the University of Manchester, said: “We’re now seeing real progress made towards scale-up and commercialisation of nanomaterial technologies.”

National Physical Laboratory senior scientist Keith Paton said: “Reducing CO2 emissions from construction is a key national and international challenge, and graphene offers a route to achieve this. By measuring the dispersion of graphene flakes in Concretene, the formulation can be optimised, improving the performance in the final application. It is a great opportunity to develop an industrially relevant measurement solution.”

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