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Featured Techie: Dr. V, Oceanit's Senior Nanotechnology Engineer

Catch Dr. V's Weird Science Show on KGMB9 Sunrise every Tuesday.

Dr. Vinod Veedu has been involved in the development of nanostructures and devices for many years. He is involved with various projects in developing nanocomposite materials at Oceanit including NanoConcrete, which was recognized as one of the top 50 nanotechnologies by NASA’s TechBrief’s Nano 50 Award. Dr. Veedu's group is also working on fuel cell membranes, micro fuel cells and anti-biofouling coating.

Dr. Veedu’s research goals include developing multifunctional nanostructures and hybrid platforms that would have a diverse array of applications such as structural composites, sensors, and electronic devices that could be used in many different industries. He has authored more than 15 publications in nanotechnology and his works have received wide acceptance in the nanotechnology community. He developed a nanobrush device that is listed in the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest nanotube brush device and has captured the attention of more than 30 news media around the world including BBC, MSNBC and Fox News. Dr. Veedu has also developed a CNT forest based composite material which has received much interest from the multifunctional composite materials development field. He has five nanotechnology related patents pending. In his current research at Oceanit, Dr. Veedu is involved in the development of multifunctional custom tailored nano materials for micro/nano unmanned aerial vehicles. In April, 2008, Dr. Veedu began hosting his own science show called Weird Science with Dr. V, on the Sunrise morning news program on KGMB9. Dr. Veedu was the Technical Chair & Program Coordinator of the ASME Multifunctional Nanocomposites International Conference held in Honolulu, Hawaii in September 2006. He is an active member of ASME and MRS. Dr. Veedu graduated with his PhD from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

See more on the Weird Science YouTube channel

Oceanit's Groundbreaking NanoConcrete Project

Oceanit has developed a nanotechnology based admixture that would significantly transform traditional concrete into “NanoConcrete”, a smart structure with inherent sensor and structural health monitoring capabilities. In addition, NanoConcrete exhibits enhanced physical and chemical performance without additional weight, significant improvements in crack resistance, corrosion resistance, thermal performances, and workability, lower environmental impact – higher-strength, less-volume, lighter-weight structures with lower CO2 emissions and smaller carbon footprint. Lastly, this new technology is scalable, cost effective, simple to apply, and safe.

Concrete, the second most used substance in the world (next only to water), has a commercial market of approximately USD 13-14 trillion per year. However, the deterioration of civil infrastructure in the US has led to the realization that cement matrix materials, such as concrete, must be improved in terms of durability and tensile strength. In general, concrete is strong under compression but very weak under tension and flexure, and has poor thermal conductivity. These problems may be alleviated by mixing steel or fiber (glass or carbon) reinforcements in concrete. However, these remedies have limitations that affect the life of a structure. For example, steel fibers mixed with concrete should not be exposed to corrosive environments. In environments where the structure is exposed to excessive thermal cycles, the thermal mismatch between the concrete and steel may cause extensive spalling because pore pressures build up in areas of severe temperature gradients. Glass fiber reinforced concrete is inexpensive and corrosion-proof, but is not as strong as steel reinforced concrete, and does not increase its tensile strength.

In making the NanoConcrete, networks of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were introduced to traditional concrete through a proprietary process. CNTs are at least 100 times stronger than steel and many times more conductive than copper. The use of this admixture dramatically enhances the properties of concrete. The CNT network established inside the concrete during the curing process introduces electrical conductivity, and acts as tiny molecular “rebar” in the concrete. The networked CNTs inside NanoConcrete will help prevent micro-cracking by “fiber-bridging” across the micro crack region. Initial studies provide promising data on the self sensing capabilities of the NanoConcrete. Changes in external loading or cracks will alter the volumetric resistivity of the structure, which could be effectively detected due to the presence of CNT network in the NanoConcrete. Characterizing these changes will help avoid catastrophic failures of structures and the socio-economical losses that follow.

Smart multifunctional structures built with NanoConcrete, would offer a novel way to monitor the health of critical structures that undergo severe wear and tear – like concrete bridges, levies etc. NanoConcrete prevents structural damage caused by dynamic loading at a bridge’s structural level, whereas normal reinforced concrete lacks the ability to deter the crack formation. Another potential application for NanoConcrete smart material is smart highways that could potentially track the location, weight and speed of traffic. Lastly, 8-10 percent of human-produced CO2 is a direct result of the mining, processing, and transport of concrete. Using light-weight, high strength NanoConcrete will help reduce the CO2 emission.

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Comment by Dave Takaki on March 30, 2009 at 7:31pm
How would calcium carbonate interact with CNTs?
Comment by Dave Takaki on March 30, 2009 at 7:30pm
What about introducing low DC current along with a bath of suspended calcium into structures to encourage formation of arragonite to retro reinforce structures?
Comment by Dave Takaki on March 30, 2009 at 7:26pm
Concrete is inevitably carbon dioxide intensive in the formulation of Portland Cement. Has there been any research in utilizing captured solar radiation to heat retort kilns?
Comment by Dave Takaki on March 30, 2009 at 7:23pm
Does higher conductivity engender the possibility of embedding self-diagnostic systems to inform civil engineers? Could it distinguish relative forces of compression and tension?


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