New York Teen Finds New Concrete Applications

Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna studied concrete additives to develop new applications for oil well seals.

Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna was surprised when she learned in tenth grade that concrete production is responsible for seven percent of manmade carbon emissions. This fact led her to think differently about concrete and see its ever-present place in her world and environment. Infrastructure, especially sustainable infrastructure development, became her passion throughout high school and into her college career.

Augusta made headlines last year when she was accepted to all eight Ivy League schools, and was also named a Finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search. Her project titled “Rheological Characterization of Attapulgite Nanoclay Modified Cement Slurries for Oil Well Cementing Applications” was featured in 2016’s White House Science Fair, and she was featured in Crain’s New York 20 Under 20. This year she’s been named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for Energy, and The Root’s 2017 Young Futurists.

Uwamanzu-Nna’s research led her to find that one of the causes of the 2010 Gulf oil spill was a faulty cement seal, and she worked to find a better way to make cement. Working with Columbia University she found that adding attapulgite to cement helped the cement to flow and bolstered the structure rebuilding of an oil well. The test was done in conditions that simulated the high pressure of an oil well during fill.

This is an awesome example of what young engineers can do when they have strong ideas and strong facilities at their disposal. Augusta’s studying at Harvard now and I’m hoping that she’s finding more ways to make infrastructure more sustainable, durable and useful.

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