Integrated research laboratory for the development of materials and sustainable and innovative structures

Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec
Area(s) of Expertise

Unique in Canada in terms of design and function, this building is both a laboratory and a research subject. During its construction it served as a large-scale test bench for different types of new building materials and structures, including ones that incorporate industrial by-products such as cementitious materials. Since then, the instrumentation installed in its walls has enabled analyses of the behaviours of actual-size structural elements. Tapping into the exceptional synergy between its high-calibre researchers, this Université de Sherbrooke team is now tackling a major challenge, namely to design tomorrow’s materials for building better concrete structures and long-lasting buildings. The laboratory has also acquired instruments that allow it to evaluate energy efficiency. From the sustainable development perspective, the laboratory building uses technologies developed in Sherbrooke to recover energy, thanks among other things to its specially designed walls.

What the facility does

Manufacturing, processing and characterization of cementitious materials and concretes; realization of actual-size test specimens for static and dynamic structural tests.

Research Services

Physicochemical, mechanical and durability tests of building materials, including fibre-reinforced polymer compounds, fibreglass, carbon and basalt fibre, concretes, cementitious materials, seismic insulators, etc. Research and development focusing on new materials and products. Structual performance tests for actual-size reinforced concrete structural components under static and cyclic loads (beams, slabs, columns, walls, bridge pillars, etc.).

Name of equipment

Description of function

Concrete plant (BMH Systems)

  • Mixer capacity: 500 litres
  • Marcotte batching software
  • Automatic feed: 9 cements and 14 admixtures
  • Weighing unit: granulat 1,000 kg, cement 400 kg, admixtures 65 kg ± 1 g, 20 kg ± 1 g, 5 kg ± 1 g
  • Temperature of components not controlled
  • Moisture sensor in sand hoppers.

Controlled temperature and humidy mixing chambers

  • Operating temperature between ‑ 10oC and + 40oC, accurate to ± 1oC
  • Relative humidity between 20% and 95%, accurate to ± 3%
  • Mixer capacity: 100 litres
  • Controlled component temperature
  • Preferred equipment for producing concrete at 5oC and 35oC
  • Chamber linked to Université de Sherbrooke’s central Honeywell Enterprise Buildings Integrator system: control of high and low alarms, connection to alarm system, data history

Shrinkage and creep chamber

  • Actual operating temperature: +23oC ± 1oC
  • Actual relative humidity: 50% ± 3%
  • Possibility to set temperature at 20oC, accurate to ± 1oC
  • ASTM C157 standard test for length change and ASTM C512 standard test for compressive creep
  • Endogenous shrinkage measurement
  • 18 pneumatic load-cell frames for creep tests
  • Chamber linked to Université de Sherbrooke’s central Honeywell Enterprise Buildings Integrator system: control of high and low alarms, connection to alarm system, data history

Rheometers for cementitious materials (Contec)

  • Measurement of grout, paste and concrete flow
  • Model: Viscometer 4, Viscometer 5, Viscometer 6

Scaling chambers (Honeywell)

  • Control of concrete heating and cooling curves
  • Control of relative humidity
  • ASTM C672 and NQ-2621-900-1 standard tests for scaling
  • Chamber linked to Université de Sherbrooke’s central Honeywell Enterprise Buildings Integrator system: control of high and low alarms, connection to alarm system, data history

Steam curing chamber (Honeywell)

  • Control of concrete heating and cooling
  • Control of relative humidity
  • Programmed protection from thermal shock
  • Chamber linked to Université de Sherbrooke’s central Honeywell Enterprise Buildings Integrator system: control of high and low alarms, connection to alarm system, data history

Alkali-silica reaction chambers (Honeywell)

  • 1 chambre at + 38oC ± 1oC
  • 1 chambre at + 60oC ± 1oC
  • Chamber linked to Université de Sherbrooke’s central Honeywell Enterprise Buildings Integrator system: control of high and low alarms, connection to alarm system, data history

Freeze-thaw cabinet (Geneq)

  • ASTM C666 standard test for resistance to freezing and thawing

Oven (Geneq)

 

  • Operating temperature up to + 100oC

Thermomechanical analyser (TA Instruments)

  • Operating temperature between ‑ 50oC and + 1,000oC

Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) (Perkin-Elmer)

  • Model: DRC II
  • Related equipment: microwave oven, Mars 5 system (SCP Science)

Scanning electron microscope (Hitachi)

  • Model: S-3400 variable pressure
  • Related equipment: energy-dispersive spectrometer (Oxford Inca EDS)

Entrained air characterization (CXI Int.)

  • Automatic measurement of characteristics
  • Correlation with ASTM C457 standard test

UV chambre (RB Atlas)

  • Model: Xenon discharge lamp
  • Surface exposure: 990 cm2

Video microscope (Hoskin)

  • Model: Keyence VHX-100
  • Resolution: 18 million pixels
  • Magnification: 25 to 175

High-capacity hydraulic press (MTS Corp.)

  • Capacity: 11.4 MN (in compression) and 8.0 MN (in tension)

Dynamic assembly (MTS Corp.)

  • Capacity: 1,600 kN (in compression) and 1,050 kN (in tension)

Test slab

  • Thickness 1 m; surface 90 x 20 m2

Bidirectional reaction walls

  • Capacity: 12,000 kNm for now
  • Height: 12 m

2 jacks with controller (MTS Corp.)

  • Capacity: 1,000 kN in compression and 50 mm stroke

Hydraulic press with environmental chamber (MTS Corp.)

  • Capacity : 500 kN in compression and tension
  • Operating temperature between ‑ 130oC and + 315oC

Overhead travelling crane

  • Capacity: 15 tonnes

Building instrumentation

  • Vibrating wire strain gauge, model EM-5
  • Fibre optic strain gauge, model EFO
  • Type T thermocouple
  • Datalogger, Senslog model CR1000

Acoustic monitoring system (Advitam Solutions)

  • Model: Soundprint
  • Capacity: 32 channels
  • Hydro-Québec
  • Pultrall
  • Cement Association of Canada
  • City of Montreal