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The problem
Most of the civil infrastructures, such as tunnels, bridges and buildings, are built by assembling prefabricated blocks of concrete, brought to the construction site after moulding and curing.
Curing is the set of protective treatments that fresh concrete has to undergo in order to keep it warm and humid, such as to avoid water evaporation.
The result of this process is a perfect concrete hydration, leading to optimal strength and minimal permeability.
Fast curing on the other hand consists in warming up the fresh concrete block in a controlled manner, such that it develops a good mechanical resistance after a few hours, instead of 28 days, as is usually the case.
Such process has evident economic advantages, thanks to its ability to speed up the maturation of concrete while improving its resistance.
It is however necessary to accurately monitor the internal temperature of the concrete, in order to tune the furnace temperature, hence ensuring an optimal maturation process and avoiding cracks, as well as minimizing the energy costs.
Our solution
In collaboration with a market leader in manufacturing of equipment and components for concrete block production, Radio6ense developed a new wireless sensor, named T-Stick, able to be partly embedded into fresh concrete and to monitor its in-depth temperature during maturation.
Based on such information, it is indeed possible to obtain the maturation curve of the block.
The T-Stick sensor, based on RFID batteryless technology, can be read by a reader integrated into the formwork where the block is undergoing the fast curing inside a big furnace.
After curing, the sensor can be left in place or easily removed.

Expected benefits
The developed system allows to monitor in a pervasive way the fast curing cycle and hence improves the quality of the concrete block: as a matter of fact, the curing temperature can be tuned according to the in-depth measurements of the concrete. In this way, possible flaws (bubbles, cracks) due to a non-optimal cycle can be eliminated. Furthermore, the developed system is able to minimize the energy costs necessary for each curing cycle.
Finally, information about successful and high-quality maturation of the concrete can be recorded in the RFID sensor internal memory, such as to be used as a quality identifier for the whole life cycle of the product.