We’ve all heard of eating our vegetables, but what about building with them? A new study by Lancaster University‘s B-SMART program will examine the effects of incorporating root vegetables – yes, vegetables – into cement production for a stronger and more sustainable way of building. The project, funded by the European Union, has brought academic and industrial stakeholders together in order to identify “biomaterials derived from food waste as a green route for the design of ecofriendly, smart and high performance cementious composites.” The program has proved successful insofar as creating a much more durable concrete mixture, with far fewer CO2 emissions from the process – all by adding some nutritious beets and carrots.
Professor Mohamed Saafi, lead researcher at Lancaster University, reveals the cement is “made by combining ordinary Portland cement with nano platelets extracted from waste root vegetables taken from the food industry… this significantly reduces both the energy consumption and CO2 emissions associated with cement manufacturing.” This news comes none too soon for developers in urban areas contending with new green regulations enforced by governments both nationally and internationally. If recent trends continue, concrete production – which accounts for approximately 8% of CO2 emissions worldwide – will double in the next 30 years.
According to Saafi, when root vegetable nano-platelets, such as those found in beets and carrots, are introduced into concrete, “the composites are not only superior to current cement products in terms of mechanical and micro-structure properties but also use smaller amounts of cement.” The initial tests have attributed this to an increase in calcium silicate hydrate, the compound which reinforces the cement, thanks to the vegetable extracts. The new concrete mixture also boasts a longer-lasting, less corrosive body and denser micro-structure, also attributed to its green food invigoration. So next time you don’t feel like eating your vegetables, just remember – they could make you stronger, too.