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Tech Bulletin No. 5 - The Great Debate

Which is better to use propane or natural gas? Because it is cheaper and widely available, natural gas has become favored over propane.

A common claim is that natural gas creates less moisture than propane, which can increase humidity inside an enclosed building. This claim is unfounded as both propane and natural gas create water vapor as a combustion by-product.

It’s true that one unit (ft3, kg, or mole) of natural gas generates about half the water vapor of propane. However, you need to use twice as much natural gas to equal the energy of propane.

Tech Bulletin No. 4 - 3D Printing and Construction

Small scale model of 3D concrete printing

3D printing has received much attention over the past few years. Applications include space exploration, manufacturing, even printed firearms.

Perhaps the most realistic and impactful future use will be in construction. Imagine a jobsite where glass, metal, concrete, and plastic printers are the primary building equipment. All structural components are custom-made onsite from raw feedstock. Instead of ‘tilt-up’ construction, typical fast-track commercial projects are ‘print-up’.

The idea is so crazy it might actually happen...and sooner than we think.

Tech Bulletin No. 3 - Self-Healing Concretes

Lab Press stressing concrete slab

Autogenous healing of concrete is a phenomenon whereby ion-rich pore solutions migrating through the capillary porosity of cement can deposit cement compounds within cracks and voids, thereby healing small areas of damage. The process requires that water be present in the pores of the cement and typically takes many years.

Tech Bulletin No. 2 MnDOT I-35W Bridge Replacement

Photo of the I-35 bridge spanning the Mississippi River. The bridge is painted bright white as part of the aesthetic  and artistic nature desired by the community and the designers.

Intended to replace the collapsed I-35 bridge and completed in late 2009, this 1200-foot long, 10-lane span consists of 120 box girder sections precast at the site and placed in 97 days. Many of the innovative features include bridge monitoring devices, such as strain gauges, chloride sensors, accelerometers, and inclinometers to measure the health of the bridge over time.

MSE Technical Bulletin No.1 - Concrete Tent

Concrete Tent

Did You Say “Concrete Tent?”

Hands-down one of the coolest new uses for concrete seen in recent years is this inflatable concrete tent! That’s right, I said concrete and tent in the same sentence.

Envisioned as an emergency and rapidly-deployable infrastructure for use by humanitarian agencies in response to natural disasters and political refugee crises, this “building in a bag” was invented by two engineering students from the Royal College of Art in London.

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