Purdue-related startup Wavelogix receives $3M investment

Purdue-related startup Wavelogix receives $3M investment

Wavelogix, a manufacturer of novel, patented concrete strength sensors invented at Purdue University’s College of Engineering, has received $3 million in Series A funding from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Rhapsody Venture Partners, a venture capital firm that specializes in hard-tech investments.

Luna Lu, Purdue’s Reilly Professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and Wavelogix’s founder, invented the Rebel concrete strength sensors.

“Rhapsody’s investment in Wavelogix shows that our sensors bring immense value to the industry,” she said. “Its funding will allow us to scale manufacturing and enable nationwide deployment of the technology.”

Jason Whaley is a general partner and co-founder of Rhapsody Venture Partners. He is an experienced entrepreneur and startup investor in the hard-tech space. Prior to Rhapsody, Whaley was the co-founder and CEO of Manus Biosynthesis, an industrial biotechnology company.

“Wavelogix’s solution is transformative for concrete construction,” he said. “Short-term, it will allow accelerated project timelines and eliminate costly quality control errors. Beyond this, Wavelogix will enable data-driven decision-making and optimization of concrete mix designs, which will reduce carbon footprints, eliminate waste and lead to more durable structures.”

Lu disclosed the sensor system to the Purdue Innovates Office of Technology Commercialization, which applied for the patent to protect the intellectual property and licensed it to Wavelogix.

Why monitoring concrete matters

According to data from the Federal Highway Administration, concrete pavement makes up less than 2% of U.S. roads but approximately 20% of the U.S. interstate system. Lu’s research has focused on improving the conditions of concrete pavement first because it is the most challenging road material to repair. Concrete interstate pavement also must reliably support a large proportion of the nation’s traffic.

“Traffic jams caused by infrastructure repairs have wasted 4 billion hours and 3 billion gallons of gas on a yearly basis. This is primarily due to insufficient knowledge and understanding of concrete’s strength levels,” Lu said. “For instance, we don’t know when concrete will reach the right strength needed to accommodate traffic loads just after construction. The concrete may go through premature failure, leading to frequent repairing.”

Developing the Rebel concrete strength sensors

Traditional methods used by the construction industry for more than a century call for testing large samples of concrete at a lab or on-site facility. Using that data, engineers estimate the strength level that a particular concrete mix will reach after it’s been poured and left to mature at a construction site. Even though these tests are well understood by the industry, discrepancies between lab and outdoor conditions can lead to inaccurate estimates of the concrete’s strength due to the different cement compositions and temperatures of the surrounding area.

With the Rebel concrete strength sensors, engineers no longer have to rely on samples to estimate when fresh concrete is ready for traffic. They can instead directly monitor the fresh concrete and accurately measure many of its properties at once.

The sensor communicates to engineers via a smartphone app exactly when the pavement is strong enough to handle heavy traffic. The stronger the pavement is before being used by vehicles, the less often it will need to be repaired. The ability to instantly receive information about the concrete’s strength levels also allows roads to open to traffic on time or sooner following a fresh pour.

Construction workers can install Rebel sensors simply by tossing them onto the ground of the concrete formwork and covering them with concrete. Next, they plug the sensor cable into a reusable handheld device that automatically starts logging data. Using the app, workers can receive information on real-time changes in the concrete strength for as long as the data is required.

Wavelogix’s sensor system has already garnered national recognition. In April, Wavelogix received the 2024 Edison Awards gold honor for critical human infrastructure. The sensor was also on Time’s Best Inventions of 2023 list, and Fast Company magazine named this invention one of its Next Big Things in Tech for 2022. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure selected the technology as one of its “Gamechangers” for the year.

In 2022 Wavelogix received a $255,996 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Science Foundation to develop its technology.

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