Natural ‘antifreeze proteins’ added as a polymer can make concrete more durable

road melting crop
Credit: Drexel University

Because concrete is porous and absorbs liquid, [temperature] changes often make its surface flake and peel. But researchers say a new process can help prevent such deterioration.

[Materials scientist and architectural engineer Wil] Srubar’s laboratory looked to the natural world, specifically “antifreeze” proteins that let some fish and bacteria endure frigid temperatures. In cells, these molecules cling to ice crystals’ surfaces and prevent them from growing too large—but they do not function in highly alkaline cement paste, a key concrete ingredient. So the researchers tried a tougher substance with similar properties: a polymer called PEG-PVA, which is currently used in time-released pharmaceutical pills.

To test it, the team mixed several batches of concrete, including one control, one with air bubbles and a few with different concentrations of the PEG-PVA additive. After 300 consecutive freeze-thaw cycles, the quality of the control sample plummeted while others maintained their integrity.

Related article:  Seeking to expand the role of ‘electroceutical’ therapies
Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Srubar has filed a provisional patent and hopes to bring the PEG-PVA process to market within five years. Meanwhile he continues the hunt for molecules that mimic antifreeze proteins’ behavior. “Everybody in my lab is convinced that nature has solved all of our problems for us,” he says. “We just have to know where to look.”

Read the original post

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend