UM team creates waterproof and perhaps pothole-proof concrete

- It's been an uphill battle against something that's destroying our tires and our vehicles, but now there's a game-changer in the fight against potholes.

The University of Michigan mixed up a new kind of concrete that's so strong, MDOT is using it to repair bridges. Could our roads be next? 

The concrete is so strong, one little block of it can take 100,000 pounds of weight. To understand the science behind why this batter so much better, you have to think about the conundrum with our cracked concrete. 

The stuff it's made of now allows water in too easily. It cracks with the freeze-thaw cycle. This batch is known as ultra-high performance concrete -- basically it's waterproof and super tough. 

Sherif El-tawil is leading the U-M team that's creating it.  

"This material, the difference is that we have selected the components so carefully that they fit together so densely and they prevent the currents in the pores in the first place. So you kind of eliminate the degradation mechanism from the beginning," he said.

MDOT is using the new concrete on St. Clair County. The concrete beams and joints on a bridge at Kilgore and Pine River were made with the new materials. The mix costs more money than the current concrete.  

"A lane mile, costs about $1.2 million, if you did it with a regular concrete. If you did it with the new concrete it would be about $1.6 million -- so about a third more," Sherif said.

MDOT officials say they are grateful for the high performance concrete but don't see it being used for actual roadways just yet, saying the concept is certainly something the hope to use parts of as they move forward.  

El-tawil says while it costs more, it will save money in the long run.

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