Do you know cement amounts to almost eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide owing to high temperatures and a tremendous amount of energy required in its production? But what if we change our traditional ways of construction and look beyond?
Scientists in Washington DC have come up with a sustainable alternative to traditional concrete. They have used coal fly ash, a waste product of coal-based electricity generation, and activated it into a strong cement-like material.
Yes! The waste material of the coal industry can be the raw material in construction in near future. As of now, more than 50 percent of fly ash said to end up in landfills, where it easily leaches into the nearby environment.
Fly ash is nothing but the material that remains after coal dust is burned. The researchers reportedly used graphene oxide, a recently discovered nanomaterial, to manipulate the reaction of fly ash with water so that the resultant is a strong cement-like material.
Not only the material evolved is strong and reduces the greenhouse gas emissions to a great extent, it is also ‘pervious.’ This simply implies that means water can pass through it to replenish groundwater and to mitigate flooding potential.
The material is being tested and demonstrated over its strength and behavior under a variety of load and temperature conditions. The researchers are still conducting infiltration tests and gathering data using sensors buried under the concrete and will soon come up with a structure made of the material.
“After further testing, we would like to build some structures with this concrete to serve as a proof of concept,” said ET Realty quoted Gang Xu, a graduate student at WSU, as saying.
It is to be noted here that this is not the first time that fly ash is being experimented to be made useful in the construction industry. However, the previous methods were not able to eliminate the intense heating methods that are traditionally needed to make a strong material.
Well, the research of WSU does come as a good news as it seems to bring the solution to the dual problems of global warming and waste management.