Flexible concrete canvas up for major engineering gong

A flexible fabric that turns into industrial-strength concrete when water is applied has been shortlisted for this year's MacRobert technology prize.

Created by a small Cardiff-based firm of the same name, Concrete Canvas achieves 80% of its strength within 24 hours of applying water and is said to be impossible to over-saturate.

The product has been used in major construction projects in extreme environments, such as diverting glacier melt water around a copper mine in the Atacama Desert, Chile, wrapping a pipeline at the bottom of the Red Sea and protecting a slope to prevent dangerous erosion next to a busy railway line in Spain.

With a lifespan of over 50 years and a low wear rate, the company says it also has a safer failure mode than conventional concrete and allows many construction projects to be completed 10 times faster, more cost-effectively and with a lower environmental impact than traditional methods.

The company has been shortlisted for the MacRobert technology prize alongside two other UK SMEs. The winner will be announced on 17 July at the academy's awards dinner and receive a gold medal plus a £50,000 cash prize.

Laura Hopperton

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