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Advancements in Eco-Friendly Concrete Technology

Concrete is a ubiquitous material in the construction industry due to its strength, durability, and versatility. However, it is also one of the largest contributors to man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions globally. Cement production, which is a key component of concrete, accounts for around 7% of all man-made CO2 emissions.

To reduce the carbon footprint from concrete and cement production, researchers are exploring ways to make the material stronger and more environmentally friendly. Here are a few examples of recent developments:

Graphene-Infused Concrete: Researchers at the University of Exeter have found a way to incorporate graphene in concrete to make it stronger. Graphene is a form of carbon that is 200 times stronger than steel, lightweight, flexible, and a great conductor of heat and electricity. The new concrete is twice as strong as normal concrete and four times more water-resistant. The research team used nanoengineering technology to suspend sheets of graphene in the water used in the concrete mix. Because of the new concrete’s strength, less material would be needed to be used, which would help reduce CO2 emissions.

Root Vegetables: Researchers at Lancaster University are using root vegetables, like sugar beets and carrots, to make concrete stronger and more durable. The research team is combining regular Portland cement with nanoplatelets taken from the fibers of carrots and beets. When the nanoplatelets are added to Portland cement, it increases the amount of calcium silicate hydrate, which is responsible for making concrete strong. By making the concrete stronger, less Portland cement is needed. In addition to being stronger, the microstructure of the cement is denser, which could lead to a more durable and sustainable concrete.

Concrete from Coal Waste: At the University of Washington, researchers have found a way to make concrete with coal fly ash that doesn’t require heating or the use of cement. Coal fly ash is a waste material generated when coal dust is burned for energy generation. The research team is using graphene oxide to manipulate and rearrange the atoms and molecules of the fly ash. The modified fly ash is combined with sodium silicate and calcium oxide to create a pervious inorganic polymer that works as a binder in place of cement. This new concrete would help divert fly ash from ending up in landfills. Because the material was designed to be pervious, it could help replenish groundwater and reduce the potential for flooding by allowing the water to pass through it to the ground below.

In conclusion, researchers are working to make concrete more sustainable by developing new ways to make it stronger and reduce its carbon footprint. With continued research and development, the construction industry can reduce its environmental impact and create more sustainable infrastructure for the future.

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