Sugar Sabotage

in #chemistry2 years ago

In 2014, a control room for a London subway line (or The Tube, as it is known there)was flooded with fast-setting concrete, temporarily stopping service and leaving commuter stranded. While the concrete was hardening around critical wires and switch banks, workers booked it to nearby grocery stores to buy bags of sugar, which they dumped into the mess, stirring it in as best as possible. The sugar inhibited the concrete from setting right away, giving the workers a chance to clean up the mess before it hardened around the room's equipment.This is an old builders trick, often used keep concrete from setting to fast on hot days, which can often lead to cracking.

Concrete is a mixture of cement, water and an aggregate, like sand or crushed rock. When you add water to dry concrete mix, it reacts with chemical components of the cement - calcium, silicon and aluminum oxides - to form a paste which thickens around the aggregate, binding it together as the mixture hardens. Without this hydration reaction, the concrete can't properly bind and remains soupy. Sugar molecules interfere with this process, possibly by preventing the particles in the cement from clumping. However, there may be a more chemistry-based explanation. Aluminum and calcium can react with sugar to form insoluble chemical complexes, meaning they cannot be readily dissolved in water.

Though a full explanation has not been published, it is probably a combination of the above factors, as certain kinds of salt can have a inhibitory effect on concrete hardening as well. Apparently, refined white sugar works best, while lactose has only minor effects. Setting can be increasingly delayed by adding more sugar, up to 1% of the cement volume. After this, the concrete will not harden at all! I learned about this from a facebook-circulating antifa post, with the intent of getting activists to use sugar to sabotage a border wall.. The post claimed that 2 lbs of sugar would ruin a full ton of concrete; apparently French anarchists in the 80's used this technique to try and stop prisons from being built. I doubt they get very far with this plan (besides, in my opinion Trump and Antifa are two sides of the same phoney Psyops coin) but I love household chemistry hacks, and I hadn't heard of this one, so I thought I would share.

Manufactured Unrest.


Wow, so sugar has a big advantage like this.

Interesting. I did not know that sugar stopped (or slowed) concrete from hardening. Judging by the picture that looks like quite a mess and like it would take quite a bit of time and work to clean up. Who every unleashed the concrete certainly accomplished the goal or causing havoc.

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Your comment about the psyop coin reminded me of something I have been telling friends for some time. I always called it my Tinfoil Hat Theory, but given the events recently, I am no longer sure its really that Tinfoil.

Here is the SF Bay Area, we have had a group that comes out during protests and purposefully does damage to property and the like. During Occupy, they smashed and destroyed even while the vast, vast majority of protestors were peaceful and trying to get their point across/make their voices heard. This happened again with the protests in Berkeley against the Alt Right speakers and whatnot. The group has been called Black Bloc for a time, but I am not so sure they are the same.

It struck me, while watching from the office I had in DT Oakland at the time, the individuals who were doing the damage always dressed the same. They always showed up and no one knew who they were among the local activists and the local populace. They were almost always young white men (I'm whetto myself, so don't get the wrong idea). They often did damage and then encouraged others to do the same: they seemed to be be clueful as to how to manipulate a "mob." When caught, they were called anarchists and whatnot,'s where we go into my maybe Tinfoil Hat Territory:

Their actions always put a significant taint on the protests. This stain was always played up on TV, esp FoxNews. There are few ways to discredit a movement or a group of people or protestors in the American media than through portraying them as violent. And these men did a great job of providing it. Perhaps that was exactly the job they were paid to do.

I had thought it was nutty and cynical. Then with everything that has been coming out about the 2016 election, I'm not so sure anymore.

Agent Provocateurs. They work for Intelligence, one way or the other....