Transportation practitioners from around the country recently gathered virtually for three days to learn more about the seven innovations that will be promoted during EDC-7 (2023-2024). If you missed sessions or breakouts, you can still view these on-demand at the summit website.
The theme of day two was Building Sustainable Infrastructure. Enhancing Performance with Internally Cured Concrete (EPIC²) took center stage to showcase benefits several champion states have seen.
EPIC² uses internal curing, which simply replaces a portion of a concrete mixture’s fine aggregates (sand) with prewetted materials. These materials provide the concrete with the necessary water for curing from inside the concrete mixture instead of from water applied on top of it. This reduces shrinkage cracking, which is a common problem on bridge decks that reduces the lifespan of those portions of the structure. Reducing this type of cracking protects the underlying steel from early corrosion and can lead to longer service lives.
This process works automatically and is highly compatible with existing concrete procedures. It is also a low up-front cost increase that substantially reduces the lifecycle cost of the structure. States may be able to extend a bridge deck lifespan from 30 years to 75 or more years.
The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has used internal curing for about 10 years on its bridge decks. When NYSDOT piloted internal curing, they chose 20 bridges due to there being essentially no risk to trying this technology. The only change to NYSDOT’s regular process was to replace regular sand with prewetted lightweight sand. The worst-case scenario would be that the DOT would see the same cracking as they did before using internal curing.
Eighteen of the 20 bridges had promising results. The two outliers were only considered less successful due to factors unrelated to the material, so the pilot succeeded and NYSDOT continued to use internal curing. In fact, the reduction in cracking was so successful that NYSDOT now requires internal curing for multi-span bridge decks and is also using internal curing for single-span decks and barriers.
Learn more about this case study and more, both in EPIC²’s breakout session video and the lessons-learned session featuring New York, Indiana, and Louisiana. For more information about EPIC², watch its EDC-7 introductory video or contact Tim Barrett, EDC-7 team co-lead.