Rabee Shamass

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Jemima Heard
October 29, 2020

Basalt came to Sustainable Innovation needing help proving that their products are ideal alternatives to steel for the construction industry. Dr Rabee Shamass helped them provide evidence that their product achieves:

  • 2x the strength of steel rebars;
  • A carbon reduction of 40% compared to the production of steel;
  • Basalt fibre production needs less than a third of the power that steel needs during production;
  • A slower rate of deterioration than steel.

The product Rabee worked hard to test: These Basalt Chopped Fibres need less than a third of the power steel requires during production - but can help create reinforced concrete that's 2x the strength of steel rebars. That's a lot of energy saved when using this material compared to traditional materials.

Find out more about the project here, or read on to hear from Rabee.

B: Your first project for Sustainable Innovation was with Basalt Technologies. Can you give us a background this project?

RS: Basalt approached me in December 2018 as they needed help proving that their product would be a viable alternative to steel re-inforced products in the construction industry.

Basalt is sourced from Basalt Rock, it's an endless, 'egologically clean' alternative that doesn't use chemicals in its processing.

Basalt Fibre coils, used for testing the reinforced concrete

I was interested in the work Basalt were doing, then I heard about the Sustainable Innovation programme and was able to get some additional support and materials through that.

We worked hard to cast and test samples of both steel-reinforced concrete bars and slabs, and basalt-reinforced bars and slabs, so that we could compare the strengths of the two.

B: When did the project start?

January 2019. We [the project team] spent a total of 101 hours on the project.

B: What support were you able to give?

RS: A lot of testing on the materials –with 6 under-grad and masters students.

Testing BFRP (Basalt Fibre) reinforced concrete beam during the project.

I supervised the students, set up the tests, liaised with technicians, completed all the data collection, results analysis, and the calculations.

B: What was your experience of working with the business like?

RS: The business was great to work with, they were satisfied with the outcome, and we both got to understand the product really well. Some of the Basalt staff came to my lab, they were able to see exactly what was going on, the tests I was doing, and watch how we were casting and mixing the materials, I think they found it interesting and learnt a lot through that.

Concrete samples with chopped basalt fibres.

There are so many possibilities through the Sustainable Innovation programme where businesses can work with academics – there are so many ways we can reduce carbon usage in construction directly and indirectly.

B:  How has working on this project benefitted you/your school?

RS: It has benefitted me as I can write the research papers and proposal on it, and it helped my students to have some real life experience during their studies at LSBU.

Rabee's paper was published in Engineering Structures, Volume 220, 1 October 2020

B: What was your favourite part of the project?

RS: I enjoyed the whole project!

B: Is there anything you would do differently?

RS: I would do more sample testing if I were to do the project again, and I would love to do a life-cycle analysis on the materials ... but on the whole I really enjoyed the project. It was a great experience.

B: Off the back of your success with Basalt, you’ve joined a new project with a company called Bamboox2go. What are you looking forward to about this new project?

I’m looking forward to doing an inter-disciplinary project, I will learn from Zahra Echresh Zadeh (the other academic on the project who is focusing on the chemical research in the bamboo material), and hopefully she will learn from me(doing the mechanical testing on the finished product).

Already in the discussion so far I’ve learnt more about the facilities and equipment we have at LSBU! It will be great for the business to receive both mechanical and chemical data from the collaboration.

We might have some challenges with workshop access due to Covid, but I think many people are keen to return to some working normality. I need to check if we have access to wood workshop.

I would also be interested to work on any other projects that involve concrete, steel, fibre reinforced polymers, mechanical testing.

Do you have a project that needs input from an expert in these materials and testing? Join our mailing list now and you'll be notified as soon as applications open.