Broad Potential For New Ceramic

Initially intended for solidifying radioactive and other hazardous wastes for safe disposal, a new ceramic invented by Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Ill., shows additional potential. For example, the material, called Ceramicrete, has been licensed by Bindan Corp., a Chicago startup, for repairing roads, making terrazzo tiles, and protecting steel beams from fires in high-rises. The material, a mixture of metal oxides and phosphate salts, forms a solid, cement-like ceramic when mixed with water. The curing process, described as an exothermic reaction, cures in less than two hours, even if ice water is used, says Bindan President Tom Lally. There's even an environmental bonus--adding incinerator ash strengthens the ceramic, adds Arun Wagh, the Argonne scientist whose team developed the material. He says adding 50% to 60% ash to the mixture can result in a threefold increase in strength.

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