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Subprojects Phase I

Task 1. - Diagnosis and durability in construction materials of the Current Historic Heritage.

Instituto Tecnológico de Rocas Ornamentales y Materiales de Construcción (INTROMAC) y Centro Tecnológico da Cerâmica e do Vidro (CTCV).
Project coordinator or responsible researcher: Mª Isabel Mota (INTROMAC) and Víctor Francisco (CTCV).


 Need of conserving the Current Historical Heritage, in order to be able to transmit our legacy to future generations.  

The historical value of a monument lies in its capacity to present, in a singular way, a determined stage of the artistic evolution, thus, it is interesting from the beginning, being necessary a guaranty its reliability as a document. The sense of the restoring intervention would be to stop the degradation process, bearing in mind that the changes suffered belong, as well, to its documental dimension. That is the reason why a catalogation with a explicit reference of the materials that are part of the documents, apart from enriching, avoides non desirable acts.

Acting on a existent building entails an important difficulty and demands a specialization of the technicians and the rest of people who work on it. In this sense, it is needed a knowledge about the lesions with probability to happen and about the inspection tools and laboratory tests appropriated to the specific diagnosis in each case.. Also it is essential to get a good knowledge of the materials and the suitable techniques to be applied. 

It is known that the intervention on the front of the monument intends to minimize the alterations on the colours and tonalities suffered by the materials along the time, through cleaning processes, use of consolidants and new materials (as for example restoring mortars), which are used in the restoration of the elements that conform the building. It is intended to do the study and analysis of the alterations produced on the materials, due their to interventions and aging, making possible the elaboration of alteration of material original models apart from looking for possible solutions from products that are used during the preservation and restoration of the monument.


The main objective is to stimulate the knowledge of the traditional materials as the maintenance in the context of our contemporary society, being themselves important components of the cultural heritage. To obtain this main objective the following steps will be developed:

  1. Establish a new methodology for the characterization of the building materials, useful to clear up problems of historic kind and to contribute to give solution to problems of preservation, remarking the alteration state (as chromatic alterations) or technical and constructive aspects.
  2. Make the characterization of stone materials, ceramics, mortars and concretes, in the selected Cultural Goods, bearing in mind that the future investigation will be part of  the previous studies of the building.
  3. Investigation, diagnoses and treatments of these materials to face the conservation and intervention of the historical architecture from a more serious and objective perspective.

Task 2.- Industrial applications of the Ornamental Rocks Extractive and Transformer Industry products.

Instituto Tecnológico de Rocas Ornamentales y Materiales de Construcción (INTROMAC), empresas del sector, Cluster Rocas Ornamentales.
Project coordinator or responsible researcher: Raquel Lozano Vázquez and Oscar Ercilla Herrero (INTROMAC).


The ornamental rocks industry sector includes the extraction unities and the transformation unities. The first ones are assigned to the stone material extraction from the quarries, the second ones are specially assigned to the processing in order to improve the aesthetic qualities, leading to an increasing commercial value. Any of these activities produces big quantities of residues that come from removal, or cutting, or rocks sawing or polishment (being currently produced more than twelve million tons of mineral mass residues per year and a value of more than one million tons of mud a per year). Such residues (pieces of ornamental rocks without commercial value, dolomits, muds) are gathered in the open air with environmental implications of different types, being remarkable the destruction of the vegetal cover, deep alterations on the land topography, significant perturbation in the lines of surface water, as well as very strong visual impacts. 

All those residues (pieces of ornamental rocks, dolomits, muds, red land) have big potentialities according to their physical, chemical and mineralogical properties, and they can be classified as sub products. 

According to the fact that one industrial destiny for these sub products would hardly solve the problems caused by the accumulation in  dumps and deposits, the present project intends to develop research lines about the application of these sub products. 

According to the Study of Technology Vigilance carried out by INTROMAC “Novedades Tecnológicas en el proceso de transformación de la piedra Natural” in which patents and scientific articles have been questioned and of which legal deposit is: BA-595/2008, the main research lines about recycling and use of Residues and Mud are the use of residues for construction, the recovery of soils contaminated by bacteria caused by located application of pesticides; as well as its application as paint agglutinative or in the resins elaboration.


 The main objective is to study the possible industrial applications for the sub products originated by the Granite industry, of which main destiny is currently the accumulation  in dumps. The research lines that are suggested for these applications are:

  1. Application of residues of granites for their use in Construction and Civil Ingenearing: aggregates for bituminous mixtures and artificial gravel (according to the PG-3 rules).
  2. Study of the Applications on natural stone residues for uses in Construction: slabs , aggregates for concrete according to the new EHE, paint agglutinative…etc.
  3. Study of the application on the recovery of soils contaminated by pesticides.
Task 3.- Development of an online monitorization system of the reinforced concrete structures degradation.

Instituto Tecnológico de Rocas Ornamentales y Materiales de Construcción (INTROMAC), Escola Superior de Tecnologia e Gestão de Portalegre del Instituto Politécnico de Portalegre (ESTG-IPP).
Proyect coordinator or responsible researcher: José María Ávila Macías (INTROMAC), Paulo Brito (ESTG-IPP).


For geographical and strategic development reasons, many of the main infrastructures of the country and respective works of art have been built in coastal and industrial areas around the biggest cities. On the other hand the architecture has turned bolder, this is, lighter, which normally means less density in the framework coating.  As it is obvious the fusion of those environmental factors, that belong to the ingenearing and civilization, promotes the early emergence with a great probability of corrosive phenomenon  with serious implications for the length of reinforced concrete frameworks and they represent, this way, a very important challenge for the technicians who work on the conservation of this kind of framework. Another aspect to bear in mind, is the need of building reinforced concrete frameworks with a minimum cost along its life cycle, it means, with a minimum number of reparations which has lead to the seek of new materials and additives for the concrete, of which contribution for the duration of the frameworks in the long term hasn't been properly evaluated yet.

In this context, the continuous exam about the degradation of a reinforced concrete framework in use, which means, the monitoring of its corrosion and duration, is more and more an obligation required by the industry as much as by the civil construction and the managers of public works with the perspective of obtaining useful information about decision making, as well as about maintaining, security and environmental control aspects. The traditional inspection, apart from being essential, presents two problems: its periodic character, relatively limited, and the demand of an intensive use of human and material resources. The alternative option is the continuous monitoring, online, with the help of equipments and permanent drills installed in the frameworks. 

One of the main causes of degradation of reinforced concrete frameworks, specially in aggressive environments like the maritime and urban ones, is the corrosion of the steal in the frameworks. It is known that the steal inside the concrete finds a chemical atmosphere that, even if favourable to the iron passivation phenomenon, confers a high oxidation resistance. This resistance tends to decrease drastically when the environment presents relatively high contents of chloride, sulphates or carbonates, easy to find, in urban and maritime facilities and industries. In those cases, the steal goes through the situation of an active electrochemical corrosion with a progressive degradation of the reinforced concrete framework. Due to the close relationship with the mechanisms of this kind of degradation, electromagnetic techniques of corrosion exams have become seriously considered, in the literature, to accomplish the monitoring mission of durability in reinforced concrete frameworks. Such methods include techniques as the conductivity/resistance of the involving concrete, the potential of metal corrosion in concrete, the speed and other important parameters about the corrosion phenomenon through the lineal polarization resistance methods, cyclic voltammetry, spectroscopy of electrochemical impedance, and electrochemical noise.

To make possible a global vision of the framework state as closer as possible to reality, the reinforced concrete duration monitoring, will certainly have to fusion the information about the concrete, this means about "corrosion" as well as about the iron situation, making possible a more functional exam about the state of the life cycle in which the framework is: if in a corrosive process beginning stage, where parameters about concrete "corrosion" on the cover layer will be, doubtless, essential, or if during the development of the frameworks corrosion process, being important to know the speed of metal degradation. 

With this project, it is specially intended to develop an instantaneous exam methodology about the reinforced concrete frameworks life cycle which are installed in environments that are potentially aggressive. For this it is necessary, first of all, to develop a group of drills and sensors with the necessary chemical and physical stability, to put them inside the concrete to get chemical, physical and electromagnetic information about the reinforced concrete framework, such as, temperature, ionic conductivity of the concrete, pH value, humidity, chloride contents of the concrete, electrochemical potential and the iron corrosion speed, which being analysed together, are the base of the evaluation methodology. 
 The proposed study will have as an experimental support a group of assays which will be accomplished in laboratories over reinforced concrete mortars which will be artificially aged by the cycles of saline mist, temperature and carbonatation, mortars where drills and referred sensors will be previously installed.  In a second stage, the intention is to validate the exam methodology basing it on assays "in service", by installing those groups of drills/sensors with a better performance in the laboratory tests, in real structures lifted in areas of acknowledged aggressiveness, the already mentioned urban and maritime areas. 

The verification of the results obtained by drills installed in the laboratory mortars will be made through the measures or direct observations based on chemical analyses and destructive visual inspections of the "mortars".


With this project it is intended to reach the following objectives:

  1. The development of electrode systems  and other drills to incorporate them in a permanent way inside the reinforced concrete frameworks, solid from a mechanic or chemical point of view, to obtain, as long as possible during the building useful life, a group of chemical, physical and electrochemical measures precise and reproducible, such as: the electrolytic ionic/resistance conductivity of the concrete; the corrosion potential of the skeleton and/or the representative drills; the soft steal corrosion speed of representative drills based on the technique of lineal polarization resistance; the relative and temperature inside the concrete; the pH value of the concrete as the chloride ions concentration through the right electrode sensors. It is also intended, in the context of this objective to develop, equipments for the data acquisition, in a reduced size, suitable to be installed in real situations (in a construction work).
  2. To develop a evaluation methodology about the framework state along the reinforced concrete framework life cycle, put down to aggressive environments regarding the concrete and iron degradation, in order to calculate the resting useful life time, basing on the continuous information got by the physical, chemical and electrochemical measures, made by the monitoring systems wrapped in the framework.