The Laboratory of Construction has six hydraulic presses that can be used on concrete, mortar, wood, steel, and other materials. The capacity of the presses ranges from 50 kN to 3000 kN, and they can be used to test the flexural strength, compression strength and tensile strength of the specimens.
Six ventilated and non-ventilated ovens are available at the Laboratory of Construction. Ventilated ovens keep specimens at constant high temperatures (e.g. 105 °C), while those non-ventilated work at lower temperatures (e.g. 40 °C). Ventilated and non-ventilated chambers are used for diverse drying processes, namely of aggregates to be used in concrete and mortar and of the produced specimens in preparation for testing.
Eight different types of stability chambers or incubators can be used at the Laboratory of Construction. Two walk-in chambers are used (i) to test the environmental behaviour of building elements (e.g. wall systems), and (ii) for creep testing. Three other reach-in environmental chambers are available, one of which includes a carbon dioxide controller. Additionally, a carbon dioxide incubator is also available. Finally, dry and humidity walk-in chambers are used.
Varied equipment is used to produce and test concrete in the laboratory context. Examples include the Vebè consistometer, concrete flow tables, buckets for volumetric mass density assessment (1 to 15 l), concrete mixers and needle vibrators, Abrams cone/slump sets, lowering meters, the L-Box apparatus, and the V-funnel apparatus.
The available machinery for mortar production includes five mixers with capacities between 1 and 5 litres, a compaction table, two flow tables, and several types and sizes of moulds (prismatic, cubic, cylindrical), adequate for mortar and concrete specimens. Bronze flow moulds and a tamper are also available.
Within this category, the Laboratory of Construction provides devices mainly for on-site testing. Those devices include concrete and pendulum Schmidt hammers, the Martinet Baronnie apparatus, the instrument for resistance to impact testing in floorings, a pull-off tester, a core drilling machine, a crack width microscope, crack width gauges, transducers (deflectometer, accelerometer, strain), a micrometre screw gauge, a mechanical strain gauge, a surface roughness meter, ultrasonic pulse velocity test instruments, an instrument for direct measurement of heat transfer properties, an inspection borescope (camera), a thermographic camera, infrared thermometers, moisture meters, a portable and waterproof pH/temperature/conductivity scanner, a fieldwork kit for salt analysis, a gas analyser, multimeters, and an ammeter.
Benchtop equipment for precision testing that benefits from the use of software for data acquisition is also available. It is the case of the apparatus for testing the dynamic Young’s Modulus and the microscopic magnifying glass.
The thermogravimetric analysis measures the mass of a sample over time as the temperature changes. Information about physical phenomena, like phase transitions, absorption, adsorption and desorption can be obtained. This type of equipment shows its strength in analyses such as quantitative determination of the constituents of advanced materials and composite materials, namely low-carbon binders.
Rheometers are used to measure the flow behaviour of viscous fluids. The equipment used at the Laboratory of Construction is a versatile rotational viscometer to determine the workability of fine-grained building materials such as cement paste, mortar, fine concrete and plaster, with a maximum particle size of 2 mm. Information can be obtained on: flow curves and rheological parameters; temperature-dependent workability properties; stiffening behaviour as a function of time and stirring speed; and effects of concrete admixtures and mineral blending agents on workability.
Spectrophotometry is associated with the quantitative measurement of the reflection or transmission properties of a material as a function of wavelength. The spectrophotometer at the Laboratory of Construction features a unique single monochromator design for maximum light throughput with excellent absorbance linearity. A photomultiplier tube (PMT) detector is used for the UV to visible region and a Peltier-cooled polycrystalline lead sulphide (PbS) detector for the near-infrared (NIR) region.
This equipment is built to conform to the requirements of ASTM C-518. The heat flow meter’s primary applications are the testing of coarse grain and non-homogeneous materials, where a large sample is necessary to obtain test results that are representative of the sample material in bulk form.
This type of apparatus is for cast and cored concrete specimens to determine the permeability to oxygen conforming to the Hagen-Poiseuille relationship. The equipment is in accordance with the RILEM Cembureau method.
Sieve shakers are used to test and control the grading of aggregates applied in mortar and concrete specimens. Five different sieve shakers are available.
The Laboratory of Construction balances have a capacity that ranges from 120 g to 150 kg, including analytical and precision balances. A moisture analyser is also available for research purposes. Stirring hotplates are used for chemical testing procedures. An overhead stirrer is also available for samples with a viscosity of up to 50 000 MPa.
Four vacuum pumps are available to be used together with desiccators to remove any trace of water from almost-dry samples.
A random set of heavy machinery is available, which includes: a jaw crusher; a specimen grinding machine; a creep frame; a curing tank; a chamber furnace; equipment for chloride, wear and Los Angeles testing; and a hydrostatic weighing apparatus.
Varied portable instruments are used in the Laboratory of Construction, such as the Blaine air permeability, the standard Vicat, the flow cone, the crushing resistance of lightweight aggregate and the plunger penetration apparatuses. Additionally, this Laboratory has instruments like the sand absorption cone, the plaster extensometer, the sand equivalent shaker, the waltz container, the K-slump tester, and the portable precision pH meter. Finally, length comparators for expansion and shrinkage, sample splitters, and cracking test moulds are also used in the LC. The set of uncategorised portable equipment includes instruments used to set up experiments, combined with other types of instruments, or essential components to provide results complying with the requirements of specific standards.