New composite could upset construction-material markets

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A Brigham Young University professor and his civil engineering students have developed a composite that’s being called a “breakthrough construction material” and that might disrupt existing material markets, much like aluminum did 50 years ago.
Utah’s Salt Lake Tribune reported numerous potential applications exist for Pyramatrix in building, bridge and highway construction, but the patented composite also might be used in space, wind-turbine support, and other applications.
Professor David W. Jensen reported Pyramatrix is lightweight but is 12 times stronger than steel and corrosion resistant. A 47-foot-long, 16-inch cylinder of Pyramatrix weighs only 47 pounds but can support nearly four tons. It’s a weave of carbon and fiberglass filaments constructed in a honeycomb of hollow pyramid shapes.
The material was developed during a seven-year, $3 million research project funded by NASA, the Federal Highway Administration, National Science Foundation, the state of Utah, and Brigham Young University. Although exotic space applications are being explored, Pyramatrix could be quickly used to replace reinforcing steel in concrete structures, such as foundations, pillars and walls.
The material has been licensed and will be marketed in the United States by Pyramatrix Structures Inc., a Wasatch Valley Technologies company headed by Jerral Pulley, a former executive at Pepsico, Squibb, Borden and Ryder.