Jun 23, 2019 | Updated: 04:51 PM EDT

Hydrophobic Cement Blocks Solves Coastal Homes Deterioration Problem

Mar 19, 2019 10:39 AM EDT

Men working on cement
(Photo : Skeeze)

On Early March 2019, the 10th International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology was held at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. Here, Dr. Majid Al Ruqeishi, an Omani scientist, won the title of "Best Oral Presentation" for discussing his concept on hydrophobic cement.

Al Ruqeishi explains that his invention could protect homes from deterioration, especially for those that are along the coastal areas. The scientist also stressed out how important the hydrophobic cement is for both coastal buildings and for drilling wells, either for oil and gas. Formations can be plastered using this type of cement. Roads can also be done using the new invention, however, this requires that the nanoparticles be mixed in a certain way with stabilizers before use.

The core of the new-found building material repels water. When water is poured on the blocks, the water would bounce or slide off the material much like the behavior of mercury when poured on any surface. Al Ruqeishi worked with Tariq Mohiuddin, an associate professor, and Al Mutasim Al Zakwani, a student finishing his final year in the university. The three were inspired by an observation they had noted when the walls would naturally deteriorate as time would pass by but the walls in the homes along the coastal area would start to deteriorate from inside.

The three explained further that humidity is the main culprit when it comes to damages that homes near coastlines undergo. The accumulation of water droplets would cause small fractures within the blocks. In time, this will corrode the metal materials inside the blocks. As of the moment, there are commercially available solutions. However, these are more of remedies as these would only deal with problems that a protected surface could offer. This means that when the protection on the surface has thinned out, the block is left open for corrosion. Al Ruqeishi and his team found a solution which involves nanotechnology to come up with cement blocks that are hydrophobic starting from its core.

The team of scientists is now updating their research and putting more effort to take their invention to the next level with their superhydrophobic blocks. The three expressed their plans to commercialize the product after its patent comes through and that collaboration with the industry of building materials is welcomed.

Al Ruqeishi and his team developed their hydrophobic cement in the physics department of Sultan Qaboos University. Their team is grateful for the nanotechnology and synthesis techniques made available for them by the said university.

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