VUBInstitute: Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Research unit: MeMC – Mechanics of Materials and Constructions
Researchers: Sven De Sutter, Tine Tysmans
Project: LightComp
For several decades, MeMC has been developing and studying cement matrix composites and their application in construction industry. The development of, after more than ten years of research at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, an Inorganic Phosphate Cement (IPC) which is acidic when fresh but pH-neutral after hardening was a large scientific breakthrough in this domain. The alkalinity of traditional ordinary Portland cement matrices being one of the largest causes of glass fibre degradation, the pH neutral IPC matrix allows for glass fibre reinforced cement composites with significantly improved durability. Moreover, due to the specific rheology of the IPC matrix, dense glass fibre textiles can be impregnated and fibre volume fractions of more than 20 % can be achieved. The resulting cement composite is an innovative building material with high tensile and compressive capacities and good durability properties. In the past, five researchers at our research group have performed fundamental research on cement composites, their modelling, their durability, and their use in lightweight structures such as shells or sandwich panels (both predoc and postdoc positions).

The promotor of this project, Tine Tysmans, obtained her PhD degree on the subject of the “Design of anticlastic shells in innovative textile reinforced cement composites” in 2010. Since then, she was appointed as academic staff (full position) at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, dept. Mechanics of Materials and Constructions, where she coordinates the research on composites in structural applications. This research benefits from her expertise in cement composites, structural analysis and design, finite element modelling, and form finding and structural optimisation. Within a relatively short period she was able to expand her research team significantly, and has currently seven researchers under her guidance, of which most focus on structural applications of cement and FRP composites, and their use in combination with concrete (stay-in-place formwork contributing as reinforcement in concrete structures, externally bonded reinforcement for existing concrete structures, finite element modelling of cement composite-concrete interaction, …). This increasing amount of researchers shows the interest and future perspective of the research group and the promotor in the domain of the project. The results of the research will be mutually interesting for all researches.