The new material researchers have dubbed “bio-concrete” is made from American signal crayfish shells, and Japanese knotweed—both of which are problematic invasive species to the British Isles.
Researchers create bio-concrete from knotweed and crayfish shells
Central Saint Martins graduates Brigitte Kock and Irene Roca Moracia have collaborated to create concrete-like tiles that give new "economic and ecological" value to invasive species. The material for the tiles—which the researchers have dubbed “bio-concrete”—is made from Japanese knotweed and shells from American signal crayfish. These are among the non-native species that are causing the most ecological and economic damage in the UK. By adding value to them, Kock and Moracia hope to incentivise their removal and help restore local biodiversity. — Dezeen
The problem(s) with concrete
Concrete is a major contributor to the climate crisis because its production releases huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide and methane are the two greenhouse gas most responsible for global warming.
- The carbon dioxide emissions from the production of concrete are so high that if concrete were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of CO2 behind China and the United States.
- Concrete is the most widely used artificial material in existence. The only thing we consume more of is water.
- Concrete currently accounts for about 8% of the carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere, dwarfing the aviation industry’s contribution of 2.5%. Concrete’s contribution of CO2 is comparable to the entire agriculture industry, which is responsible for 9% of carbon emissions.
- The central ingredient in concrete is cement, which is made by crushing limestone and clay and adding iron ore or ash. The mixture is heated in a kiln to more than 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit, a process that consumes vast quantities of fossil fuel.
- When heated, the calcium carbonate in limestone breaks into calcium oxide and carbon dioxide, which is released into the air. The calcium oxide is ground with limestone and gypsum to make cement. Half of the CO2 emissions in the production of concrete come from the reaction that breaks up the calcium carbonate and the other half from the fossil fuels required to heat the kilns and transport the materials.
The climate crisis is a complex problem, requiring simultaneous action in many areas, including concrete production.
10 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS GREENER
The construction, operation and maintenance of the built environment accounts for 45% of total UK carbon emissions, with 10% down to the build, according to the UK Green Building Council. In addition, 32% of landfill waste comes from the construction and demolition of buildings and 13% of products delivered to construction sites are sent directly to landfill without having even being used. So how can those working in the industry identify construction methods with reduce the environmental impact? Read on to learn how project managers can make their work more sustainable.