Concrete Cloth by ProQuest


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									             Concrete Cloth
               a new product being tested on the frontlines in afghanistan

                                        by William CraWford aNd Peter breWiN

T   he British Army just placed a sizeable order for an
    innovative new material that combines the flexibility
of fabric with the structural performance of concrete.
                                                                The British Army quickly saw potential uses for this
                                                            new material and started trials using Concrete Cloth as a
                                                            method of reinforcing sandbag defenses. This solution,
Unlike anything else on the market, this revolutionary      shown in Fig. 1, reduces degradation of sandbag walls
technology enables the use of concrete in a completely      in harsh environments such as Afghanistan, where the
new way. The product, called Concrete Cloth, was            combination of wind, sand, and extreme temperatures
developed by a British engineering company called           mean frequent repairs to frontline defenses. In addition,
Concrete Canvas. It will soon be used to enhance front-     damage is caused by incoming fire and outgoing muzzle
line defenses in Afghanistan.                               flash. Concrete Cloth is completely fireproof and has
   The story behind its inception is somewhat unusual.      performed very well during range trials where it was
Four years ago, we entered a competition run by the         tested with small- and medium-caliber weapons. The
British Cement Association. At the time, we had no          material comes in 10 m (33 ft) rolls to eliminate the need
idea that our entry for a rapidly deployable emergency      for heavy lifting equipment and plant machinery. This is a
shelter would result in the launch of our own technology    big advantage when operating in remote areas where
development company. Our research has now included          most supplies have to be transported by helicopter. The
trips to disaster zones around the world, including         material is then simply unrolled over the sandbag wall,
Uganda and New Orleans.                                     secured using battens, and sprayed with water. A durable
   Four years later, the concept has matured into a         and hard wearing surface is produced within 24 hours.
technology that has applications far beyond emergency           Key to the success of the material is the fibers that form a
shelter. Following development funded through a             reinforcing matrix within the Concrete Cloth. These provide a
combination of private equity investment and grants,        stable failure mode, absorb energy, and help maintain the
the company relocated to a dedicated production site in     structural integrity of the concrete when impacted. A ballistic
South Wales, UK, where we have begun volume production      projectile will pass through the cloth, but crack propagation
of Concrete Cloth and Concrete Canvas Shelters.             is limited. The sand in the sandbag is therefore retai
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