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Construction engineers routinely wait 28 days after a concrete building mixture has been made to test its comprehensive strength. Such stringent quality controls produce results that make cement and concrete a favorite choice of builders. However, these tests can be costly. In addition to construction delays caused by the long waiting period, companies also pay for the raw materials, materials storage and curing space, employees to prepare the material and test it, and the disposal of the test batch. Some firms spend more than $500 000 yearly on these materials quality tests.

NIST researchers and industry partners intend to change that situation. They recently launched the Virtual Cement and Concrete Testing Laboratory (VCCTL) Consortium to develop a computer-based or "virtual" laboratory that could quickly evaluate cement and concrete mixtures. VCCTL consortium members will collect data on relevant raw materials and concrete mixtures, incorporate the information into computer models, and then use the computer simulation of different cement-based mixtures for rapid quality evaluations. Once material characteristics of different concrete and cement mixtures are known, computer models could reveal their "28 day strengths," as well as other properties of interest, within hours.

Six companies have joined the VCCTL consortium so far. Further private-sector membership is invited. Version 1.0 of the VCCTL software is available at
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Publication:Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2001
Next Article:Hysteresis and Related Error Mechanisms in the NIST Watt Balance Experiment.

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