Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Saving Bridges With Chip Flavorings

I’m not a huge fan of potato chips. For one thing, I have an MSG allergy. Eating even a tiny amount of synthetic MSG gives me a raging migraine that can last for days, and nearly all brands of potato chips include it. But of the few varieties of chips that I can eat, one of my favorite flavors is salt and vinegar. Oh yes, salty, crispy, tangy. Snap, baby! But do the chip companies actually pour vinegar over the potatoes? No, they add flavoring in the form of sodium acetate.

Now a Jordanian researcher has found a very interesting use for this puckering chemical: concrete sealant!


Concrete is very porous and breaks down when water enters all those pours, rusting out the steel innards and, during cold weather, freezing, expanding, and cracking the concrete.

Awni Al-Otoom of the Jordan University of Science and Technology coated concrete with sodium acetate. Sodium acetate, normally a crystal, swells when contacting water. Thus when he applied the water, the sodium acetate at once absorbs the water and blocks further entry of those water molecules into the concrete through that pore. Ingenious. When it dries, the crystal dries too, opening the pore and allowing water that got through to evaporate out. The study is detailed in the Aug. 1 issue of the journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.

This is, of course, of particular timely interest given the dramatic destruction of the bridge in Minneapolis. Was concrete fatigue at fault? Probably not given it was a mostly-steel bridge, but who can say for sure at this time, since there were concrete portions?

So, in the future, you may be able to cross bridges knowing that the flavor of your chips is protecting your ass as you cross.

I wonder if, as you are crossing, you stop and lick the concrete, would it taste like your salt-and-vinegar chips?

Image taken from HERE.

1 comment:

katty said...

This blog is amazing!!!I love to drive by a bridge, actually there are bridge beautiful for their structure or their size. simply love it. I´ll approach
costa rica investment opportunities in this country there are land that need big bridges.