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PULLMAN, Wash.-

Researchers at Washington State University (WSU) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have found that putting nanoparticles from shrimp shells into cement paste made the material significantly stronger.

This innovation could lead to a reduction in seafood waste and also lower carbon emissions from concrete production.

pnnl

Researchers created nanocrystals and nanofibers of chitin, from waste shrimp shells. These tiny bits of chitin, about 1,000 times smaller than a human hair, were added to cement paste and the resulting material was up to 40% stronger.

The success in strengthening cement paste came down to how the particles suspend themselves within the cement slurry and how they interact with the cement particles.

"The chitin nanoparticles repel individual cement particles enough so that it changes the hydration properties of the cement particle within the system," said WSU Regents Professor Michael Walcott.

Researchers are now hoping to scale-up their work to begin producing the additive at large scales. The research also needs to continue to achieve the same level of enhancements seen at the cement paste scale at the concrete scale.

For more on WSU's research efforts please visit https://news.wsu.edu/press-release/