The cement industry alone accounts for an estimated 7% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Concrete’s brittle nature and low-tensile strength means steel rebar reinforcement is usually required. Rebar is vulnerable to corrosion and requires an additional protective layer of concrete, increasing weight and concrete consumption. Is there a more environmentally friendly alternative that would help make the construction industry more sustainable? One possibility, textile-reinforced concrete, combines fine-grained concrete and textile fabrics. TRC demonstrates improved tensile strength, ductility and energy absorption capacity, and is lightweight and flexible. 

Researchers Lior Nahum, Shabtai Isaac, Alva Peled, and Oded Amir considered the global warming potential savings specific to concrete beams reinforced with carbon textiles in place of steel rebar. In their paper “Significant Material and Global Warming Potential Savings through Truss-Based Topology Optimization of Textile-Reinforced Concrete Beams” in the Journal of Composites for Construction, they explore two concepts for beam design. The first replaces steel rebar with carbon textiles. The second employs a truss-based topology optimization procedure which would allow for a structure to be manipulated. This work focuses on the flexural design load at failure and calculates the amount of material that could be saved. Learn more about the material and GWP savings compared to conventional beams at The abstract is below.


This work focused on material and Global Warming Potential (GWP) savings for the construction of textile-reinforced concrete (TRC) beams made of carbon fabrics (without steel rebars), which were characterized by their flexural behavior. Two beam design approaches were explored for material and GWP savings: (1) regular TRC beam designs, in which the steel rebars were replaced by a carbon textile, which eliminated the need for a thick concrete protective layer that is required in steel reinforcement; and (2) optimized truss-like TRC beams that were based on topology optimization, which distributed the concrete and fabric at their optimal locations. The aim was to minimize concrete consumption through the development of lightweight structural concrete elements with irregular shapes. This exploited the ability of the fabrics to conform to complex shapes and their corrosion resistance. Examples of concrete beams with optimal configurations that were demonstrated in this work showed the potential for significant savings in concrete and reinforcement and the related GWP. In addition, weight was significantly reduced when the textile was used as reinforcement instead of steel.

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