It’s tough to keep supply routes open in Afghanistan and Iraq when people are intent on setting off improvised explosive devices on the roads.
That’s why two civil engineering students at Missouri S&T are studying various brands of rapid-setting concrete in an attempt to understand the best ways to patch huge potholes and repair damaged roadways.
Travis Hemsath and Matthew Struemph, both seniors, are studying eight different mixes of concrete to find a mix that is capable of repairing an IED crater within two hours.
“Right now, it can take a day or more to fix the craters,” says Hemsath. “They have to guard the holes at all times. The soldiers are at risk while they watch the concrete harden.”
Working with cement, sand, rock and water, Hemsath and Struemph are conducting their experiments in a temperature chamber at Missouri S&T. The concrete mixes settle slower in cold weather. The students are recording how long it takes the mixes to settle at various temperatures.
“The Army needs something fast and simple,” says Struemph. “Their priority is to patch the problem and keep the routes open. We want to give them a playbook. If they have a hole and it’s 70 degrees outside, we want them to be able to see how to proceed.”
The study is being funded by the U.S. Army Research Lab through the Leonard Wood Institute. John Myers, associate professor of civil engineering at Missouri S&T, is directing the research.
Hemsath and Struemph have been involved in phase one of the project. Myers and other researchers will test concrete mixes in the field during phase two.
S&T graduate students Dan Kienitz and Levi Smith have also been involved with the research.