Behind the scenes with ecomaterials

Fernando Martirena   

In a visit to an ecomaterials workshop, the visitor cannot have a clear idea of the R&D behind this result. Experienced scientists from Cuba and Europe have worked many years, costly equipment has been used, and many experiments have been carried out.

Since 1994, Fernando Martirena, the scientific leader of the group that developed the CP-40 technology, travels quite often to the University of Kassel in Germany. He works there with colleagues from the Department of Structural Materials in various projects related to the research of the CP-40 cement. In 2001 the German foundation “Alexander von Humboldt” granted him a fellowship to continue to investigate the material.

The laboratory where he works presents itself to the outsider as a science fiction piece. In the electronic microscope, for instance, the hydration reaction in cement grains can be observed at 12,000 magnifications. There are a dozen more machines with specific functions, which are also necessary for the experimental work.

The equipment is very expensive, several million Euros. It has to be operated under strict technical conditions; for instance, network voltage must be very stable. The personnel operating these machines requires a rather long training process, quite often years, in order to achieve reliable results. Therefore, it is more practical to send Cubans to Europe to do their scientific research, instead of thinking of somehow buying and setting these machines into operation in Cuba.

Once the results have been proved, and the theories elaborated, they have to be published in prestigious international journals, mostly in English or German. This allows the international scientific community to know of the new results, and brings prestige for the product. Many of CIDEM’s collaborators have taken part in this investigation, and some have obtained their scientific titles.

So, the next time you come across an ecomaterials workshop and see the “simple” CP-40 production, you will then have a clearer picture of the complex research work behind this apparently simple result.

 

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