Vegetables are reportedly set to revolutionise the industry making materials even stronger!
Apparently, industrial partners at Cellucomp Ltd UK are working with engineers at Lancaster University to develop stronger building materials. Using vegetables! Much more environmentally friendly, materials can reportedly be strengthened by using nano platelets. These can be extracted from the fibres found in root vegetables.
Supported by the EU’s Horizon 2020 funding, £195,000 is being invested after early tests found that by using the nano platelets from carrots or sugar beets, the mechanical properties of concrete can be improved.
Not only that, but these materials were also found to be better commercially when compared to cement additives such as graphene.
But, the cost is only worthwhile if the product actually works, right?
Well, apparently, the nano platelets work by increasing the amount of calcium silicate hydrate in the material. This is the main substance that helps to stop cracks and control the overall performance of the material. And, with this, the improved performance also means that smaller amounts are then needed in the work.
Alongside this, the industry as a whole is looking to improve their carbon emissions. And, currently, the production of Portland cement, one of the main ingredients used in concrete, is responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions. And not only that, due to rising demand, this is also set to double in the next 30 years.
In comparison, the use of root vegetables was found to use 40kg of ordinary Portland cement (in per cubic metre of concrete). Saving CO2 emissions by this too.
Lead researcher Professor Mohamed Saafi described: “These novel cement nanocomposites are made by combining ordinary Portland cement with nano platelets extracted from waste root vegetables taken from the food industry.”
“The composites are not only superior to current cement products in terms of mechanical and microstructure properties, but also use smaller amounts of cement.”
“This significantly reduces both the energy consumption and CO2 emissions associated with cement manufacturing.”
“The vegetable-based cementitious composites were also found to have a denser microstructure.”
“Which is important to prevent corrosion and increasing the lifespan of the materials.”
“The research project is also looking at adding very thin sheets made from vegetable nano platelets to existing concrete structures to reinforce their strength.”
“The two-year research project will investigate the science behind the results of the proof-of-concept studies to gain a fuller understanding of how the vegetable nano platelet fibres enhance the concrete mix.”
“The researchers will also seek to optimise the concrete performance to help produce a mixture that can be used in the construction industry.”
This isn’t the only method being used to help improve materials either. In fact, researchers are developing ‘superconcrete’ which they believe will revolutionise the industry. Reportedly, this new type of concrete is twice as strong and four times as water resistant! Take a look at the full report on this here.
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