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Concrete mixed with wood

Downtown Greenville parking lot is paved with innovation.


By Mike Hutchinson (Posted Dec. 28, 2018):

The parking lot at 908 East North Street will be observed to compare the performance and longevity of regular concrete with that of concrete mixed with cellulose nanoparticles.

Concrete mixed with wood. I thought that would get your attention.

SynTerra recently partnered with the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities on a project that demonstrates the effectiveness of mixing concrete with cellulose nanoparticles. We’re eagerly awaiting the results of a practical application and testing at the Endowment’s formerly deteriorating parking lot in downtown Greenville. It’s the largest commercial test of the technology.

The cellulose nanoparticles additive is a wood product developed by the U.S. Forest Service in collaboration with Purdue University and Oregon State University. Testing at the 40-by-107-foot Greenville lot is accompanied by high hopes for a stronger surface and cleaner atmosphere. The manufacturing of cement produces large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions because it involves burning fuel to heat a powdered mixture of limestone and clay at temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The cement is mixed with water and aggregate to produce concrete. The hypothesis is that by adding cellulosic nanoparticles to the mixture, concrete becomes more resistant to corrosion and lasts longer. This enables the use of less cement, resulting in a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

The asphalt parking lot at the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities headquarters (908 East North Street) had been in place for decades and was deteriorating. The deterioration was caused by a combination of fatigue and traffic that cut through the parking lot to access North Street. The organization seized the opportunity to remove the existing pavement and to demonstrate the effectiveness of concrete mixed with cellulose particles in a concrete parking lot.

SynTerra’s role in this demonstration project was to prepare a site plan, with construction details, that would satisfy City of Greenville code. Even though the parking lot had been constructed decades ago in accordance with code, the demonstration project is considered new construction and had to meet current code.

We prepared several iterations of the site plan with input from the endowment and Harper Construction. The plan had to be constructible and comply with current City code. The parking lot had to be regraded to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, and it had to include green space ratios in compliance with city code. The site plan was approved by the City of Greenville, which issued a construction permit.

The demonstration consists of placing 4,000 psi regular concrete in part of the parking lot and 4,000 psi concrete mixed with cellulose nanoparticles in the remaining portion of the parking lot. The parking lot will be observed to compare the performance and longevity of the regular concrete with that of the concrete mixed with cellulose nanoparticles.

If observations and subsequent documentation prove that the performance of concrete mixed with cellulose nanoparticles meets or exceeds the performance of regular concrete, then concrete mixed with wood could become the norm. Trees would then be able to reduce greenhouse emissions while living and after being harvested. That is what I call a win-win scenario.