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Published for Nashua Builders of Idaho in Dec. 2015

ECC: The Future of Prefab?

When you’re building prefabricated structures, it’s important to think about the materials you’re using. Choosing the right structural components can—quite literally—make or break your project, which is why Nashua Builders makes the effort to keep up with the latest developments in material science.

One paper from Stanford in particular caught our eye recently, regarding the use of so-called “Engineered Cementitious Composites.” Engineered Cementitious Composities—or “ECC’s,” as they’re called—are similar to normal fiber-reinforced concrete compounds, in that they’re composed mainly of cement, sand, water, fibers, and chemical additives. However, ECC’s are different from other concrete compounds in that they’re incredibly durable, withstand immense strain, and can become surprisingly ductile when composed correctly.

ECC components could potentially revolutionize large-scale prefab structure building. As the parts are constructed with a strain capacity 500 to 600 times larger than regular concrete, components made from ECC are infinitely more versatile. In addition, as ECC is less brittle and much more ductile than concrete, the components that are cast for one project can possibly be reclaimed and reused in a different area once the initial project has reached the end of its life-cycle.

In addition to its structural benefits, ECC has the potential to become an efficient and sustainable material that utilizes industrial waste in place of other ingredients to achieve the same effects. According to Stanford’s research, ECC has already been made using waste foundry sand and cement kiln dust—among others—to “improve material sustainability while not sacrificing performance.” Though large-scale implementation of recovered ingredients does not seem to be in place as of yet, it is certainly an interesting thing to consider.

Although ECC is certainly a promising new material, it hasn’t quite made the jump into prefab houses— currently, ECC is used mainly in the construction of prefab infrastructure such as highways and bridges. However, we here at Nashua Builders always have an ear to the ground for anything that will help make our prefabricated houses better.

If you have any questions about our methods, our materials, or our prefab houses, feel free to contact us. We here at Nashua Homes of Idaho are dedicated to making our prefab houses the best they can be.

Citations:

http://stanford.edu/~mlepech/research.projects/cife.09.2/cife.ecc.cifeproposal.pdf