University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers have engineered a conductive concrete that can protect sensitive electronic systems and infrastructure by blocking electromagnetic energy and interference.
Magnetite along with carbon and metal components are mixed with standard concrete aggregate to absorb and reflect microwaves and radio waves.
- Developed to help melt snow and ice from roads and bridges, the concrete has been commercialized for the so-called spray-applied shotcrete applications to protect military installations and other high-value real estate from electronic eavesdropping and electromagnetic pulse attack.
Shields up. As the military and heavy civil engineers push the edge of anti-terror and extreme-climate infrastructure resiliency, concrete has emerged as the de facto, front-line building material for future-proofing critical real estate from natural and man-made disasters alike.
A popular substrate for the introduction of remote sensing technologies and infrastructure smart skin, concrete provides a barrier to electromagnetic pulse attacks, courtesy of the imbedded magnetite, carbon and metal fibers. Once encased, vital network systems and electronics would be insulated from high-altitude nuclear blasts, radio-wave weaponry and old-fashioned eavesdropping.
That the aggregate has been commercialized for shotcrete applications opens it to many more uses, allowing facility and infrastructure owners to retrofit projects against EMP threats. Likewise, sensing technologies imbedded in concrete for seismic detection or structural integrity failures could see wider commercialization if deployed as a shotcrete application versus requiring small-batch, customized mixing of aggregates.
Kudos to the research team, who even after seeing the technology quickly commercialized by the military industrial complex have turned right back to their original task at hand: radiant heating and de-icing of roadways to improve transportation conditions for the national highway infrastructure. That’s concrete evidence of some serious road warrior research cred.