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United Utilities and University of Manchester in hunt for new materials

  • United Utilities and University of Manchester in hunt for new materials

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United Utilities
We are United Utilities, the North West's water company - keeping the taps flowing and the toilets flushing for 3 million homes and 200,000 businesses across the region.

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An ambitious project between United Utilities and the University of Manchester to put green concrete to the test in the water sector has taken an important step forward.

The University of Manchester’s Graphene Green Concrete is one of the partners taking part in the water company’s latest Innovation Lab – and now the first test pour of the potentially revolutionary material has taken place.

Graphene Green Concrete was developed by a team at the university as a sustainable alternative to standard concrete. Instead of using virgin aggregate material, the concrete uses 100% recycled aggregate combined with tiny amounts of graphene to reduce its overall carbon impact.

With United Utilities set to invest a record £13.7 billion (over $17 billion) in the biggest ever water infrastructure improvement programme for more than 100 years, Graphene Green Concrete has potential to reduce the environmental impact of construction projects and contribute towards the company’s net zero targets.

Kaz Kundi, Principal Carbon Engineer at United Utilities explained: “This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for us to collaborate with academia and push the boundaries of typical concrete mix design. Our upcoming investment programme will see us upgrading and delivering new infrastructure across the region and that will involve a lot of concrete.

United Utilities set to invest a record £13.7 billion in the biggest ever water infrastructure improvement programme for more than 100 years

“We’re exploring ways to reduce the environmental impact of that, and Graphene Green Concrete could play a key role for United Utilities and other water companies.”

Yong Wang, Professor in Structural Engineering, from the Graphene Green Concrete team added: “We are thrilled to be testing this game-changing, graphene-enhanced concrete for use in the utility sector.

“Production of cement for concrete is a leading causes of global carbon dioxide emissions and any reduction in virgin materials will deliver significant environmental benefits. Our knowledge and experience is growing rapidly and being part of United utilities’ Innovation Lab is a huge boost.”

Graphene for the testing was provided by two independent producers Levidian and Versarien, and United Utilities’ delivery partner Sapphire Utility Solutions provided other materials and managed the concrete pour.

A range of concrete slabs featuring varying concentrations of graphene is now undergoing testing at the University of Manchester to monitor and analyse if they meet the necessary performance requirements.  

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