Who would've thought that the flavoring that helps give "salt & vinegar" chips their tasty tang could also help protect concrete from water damage? A new study by Awni Al-Otoom and his colleagues in Jordan has revealed that sodium acetate — a chemical commonly used in flavored chips (and a variety of other products and processes) — can work as a cheap and effective concrete sealant by providing a waterproof coating.
As they note in their study, concrete — though one of the most widely used construction materials — suffers from a high porosity that allows water to soak in and cause cracks and other problems when the water expands or changes state. And while sealants are widely available, most have serious shortcomings. In their trials, the scientists demonstrated that sodium acetate could seep into pores in concrete and crystallize upon exposure to water — blocking the entry of any further moisture. Once the crystals shrink back under dry conditions, the moisture is allowed to evaporate.The net benefit according to Al-Otoom and his team: a large reduction in water permeability that "can be expected to increase the service life of the concrete." And though we're no big fans of concrete, it'd be nice to see a similar, more environmentally-friendly approach taken to strengthen other construction materials.
Via ::ScienceDaily: Potato Chip Flavoring Boosts Longevity Of Concrete (news website)