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Developed in UAE, first precast building using conductive concrete for shielding set to open soon

Developed in UAE, first precast building using conductive concrete for shielding set to open soon
28 Jan 2024 19:49

SHARJAH (ALETIHAD)


A research team from American University of Sharjah (AUS) and the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation (SRTIP) are set to throw open the doors of the precast building made of conductive concrete used for shielding, a fruit of 16 years of extensive exploration and testing.

Located at the SRTIP, the innovative building uses a concrete mix that provides protection from electromagnetic pulses (EMP), otherwise known as electronic sabotage, for the protection of vital civilian and military infrastructure. Two patents have already been filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the technology.

The path-breaking innovation is the brainchild of two lead researchers, Dr. Sherif Yehia from the AUS Department of Civil Engineering and Dr. Nasser Qaddoumi from the AUS Department of Electrical Engineering, who first met in 2009. Together they collaborated and explored the diverse applications of conductive concrete, which initially focused on heating applications and then expanded to investigate the shielding features of conductive concrete.

EMP Protection

“Conductive concrete has been used for a variety of applications around the world, but this is the first precast building of its kind that uses this technology for shielding,” said Dr. Yehia.

He added, “This means that the building is impervious to energy pulses, preventing the risk of short-cutting electronic equipment. The structure ensures a complete signal blockade, preventing any external signals from entering or leaving. This innovative technology holds the potential to safeguard critical facilities like data centres, power stations and security centres.”

Their joint project earned the researchers university and industry recognition, securing backing for their research which was carried out in the College of Engineering’s state-of-the-art labs.

“We received tremendous support from AUS and its Office of Research and Graduate Studies through several faculty research grants and aid in the process of filing for the US patent,” said Dr. Qaddoumi. “We also got generous support from Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTI Park, who offered us funding, land for construction and helped us form an advisory board for the project. ALEC Engineering Contracting, currently overseeing the building construction, played a pivotal role in its development.”

Throughout the process, both researchers acknowledged the contributions of their students at the undergraduate and graduate level in assisting them in their work, whether through conducting research, taking measurements, assisting in prototype development, or even in initiating their own research in areas related to the work carried out by the two researchers. This gave students valuable, hands-on experience throughout the implementation of the project.

Collaboration To Extend Scope of Wider Applications


Going forward, the researchers will be exploring collaboration avenues with industry partners to extend the scope of their work for wider application. One of the main outcomes of the project is the creation of novel concrete materials that will help the growth of the construction industry and contribute to EMP (electromagnetic pulses) protection of the electric grids, generators, and buildings with sensitive equipment and information.

In addition, collaboration with precast and ready-mix producers will ensure transfer of knowledge to the construction industry.

The key advantages of conductive concrete are: shielding against EMP without the need for any special additions, improved mechanical properties, relatively lower costs compared to other shielding techniques and ability to be produced as precast units.

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