Professor, Building Materials, leader of the Building Materials research group
Historically, Tang Luping and his research group have focused heavily on defensive research, such as the performance of concrete, and are international leaders in the field.
- My research on performance under the influence of chloride ions found in sea salt and road salt has resulted in a standard method for testing the performance of concrete.
The method was adopted as standard in many countries and, towards the end of 2015, was in the process of being standardised at EU level. Research into the performance of concrete is important, not least in the context of the Ferry-free E39 project, where a number of researchers from the Building Materials research group are involved in sub-projects. ”Ferry-free E39” is an initiative which involves identifying innovative ways to link up Norway's inaccessible west coast. Here, materials performance is a key factor in identifying long-term solutions.
In recent years, the research conducted by Tang and his group has also become more offensive. An interesting example of offensive research which has attracted attention is graphene-modified concrete. Tang and his colleagues are collaborating with the Graphene Centre on this.
- This allows us to customise properties at nano level, thereby obtaining different properties. Concrete is made up of around 15% cement, and if you replace a thousandth of the cement's weight in the concrete with graphene, it becomes 40% stronger. People generally think that graphene is a very expensive material to produce but that's not the case.
Link between research and teaching
Tang is also examiner/course manager for the Materials Performance course, which was started as part of the Omstart programme review project to give students a deeper understanding of materials performance, which is crucial for knowledge and understanding of modelling and design of lifespan calculation tools. As course manager, he links teaching to his own and his research group's results, but it may be a while before students are given an insight into the offensive research that's being done in the field of graphene-reinforced concrete, for example.
- Clearly, we only use well-established research results in our teaching, but the method for assessing the performance of concrete is used as a tool in teaching, both here and at other universities. Access to the department's lab also gives us an advantage because we have two important tools which are used in teaching: firstly, a test method to test concrete's resistance to chloride - a method which was developed by us and which is used in many countries. And, secondly, a method for non-destructive measurement of reinforcement corrosion in concrete: a method which was developed during my time at SP, the Technical Research Institute of Sweden.
The year in review and the future
In 2015, the research group gained a Dr. when Arezou Babaahmadi defended her thesis Durability of Cementitious Materials in Long-Term Contact with Water. Later in 2015, Babaahmadi won the ”Concrete Researcher of the Year” award.
- The most important events of the year for our research group were Arezou being awarded her doctorate and the launching, in conjunction with Professor Johan Liu's group at MC2, of the graphene projects "Functionalised graphene-reinforced cement-based materials for greener building” and ”Graphene-reinforced composites for asphalt road surfacings” (funded by the Swedish Research Council, FORMAS, and the Norwegian public roads administration, Statens Vegvesen). The Building Materials research area is important both now and in the future. In a nutshell, if we are to create a sustainable society we must optimise our resources.