Creating and maintaining sustainable solutions for concrete infrastructure

Posted on Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Author: Aline Bélisle

Buildings, roads, bridges and beyond: Making concrete eco-friendly for the infrastructure of the next generation

Civil infrastructure is critical to society. A large number of concrete structures built in the 1960’s to 1980’s in Canada and worldwide are showing signs of distress caused by damage mechanisms such as alkali-aggregate reaction (AAR), sulfate attack, steel corrosion, freezing and thawing and more.

Considering the need for sustainable and resilient infrastructure, the increasing shortage of quality materials and the pressure to preserve natural resources, it is essential that these new structures be built with eco-efficient techniques and environmentally friendly materials.

The challenge presented by concrete infrastructure is twofold; there is also a pressing need to optimize the recycling process of materials coming from industrial projects and the demolition of infrastructure having reached the end of its service life.

infrared image showing damage to piece of concrete

Fractures in concrete caused by alkali-aggregate reaction (AAR)

Innovative solutions at uOttawa

Professor Leandro Sanchez and his research team of uOttawa graduate students are focusing on the development of advanced techniques for the diagnosis and prognosis of aging concrete infrastructure. His research in this area, coupled with an exploration of innovative methods to increase the sustainability of the material, will result in lessening the carbon footprint of concrete construction and create a greener future in the concrete industry.

Recently, Professor Sanchez’s research on the analysis of concrete has expanded to include elements of AI technology, which is still relatively uncommon in the field of Civil engineering. This pioneering use of new technologies and collaboration with other disciplines has recently earned him a New Frontiers in Research Fund grant, which provides financial support to international, interdisciplinary, fast-breaking and high-risk research.

Creating the civil engineers of the future

As well as pioneering new techniques to analyze concrete infrastructure, Professor Sanchez strives to create a research environment that fosters teamwork above all, while still encouraging students to experiment and publish their findings in scholarly articles.

Leandro Sanchez with students Diego Jesus de Souza and Mayra Tagliaferri de Grazia

Since joining uOttawa’s Department of Civil Engineering in 2015, prof. Sanchez has already seen two students from his research group awarded the prestigious Vanier Scholarship: Diego Jesus de Souza in 2018, and Mayra Tagliaferri de Grazia in 2019. As a recipient of the Vanier scholarship himself in 2010, Professor Sanchez understands the impact that such opportunities can have on the development of his students’ career.

Learn more about Professor Sanchez’s research:

Back to top