Scientists Used Carrots and Beets To Make Crazy-Strong Concrete | Tech News
Ever walk through the produce section of your local grocery store and think “man, I bet that would make a great concrete additive”? I’m guessing no, but on the off chance you did you may have been right.
It would have depended on which particular vegetable you were talking about. Thanks to the work of scientists at Lancaster University in England, we now know that carrots and beets can be used to make super-strong concrete.
There’s more to it than just popping a bit of veg into a food processor and pulsing it into shreds, naturally. The research team created sheets of “nanoplatelets” which they created out of cellulose extracted from the carrots and beet roots.
Those “nanosheets” were added to a run-of-the-mill concrete mix with amazing results. Producing one cubic meter of concrete normally requires about nine 50kg bags of cement. Adding the nanosheets let the research team cut out almost an entire bag without sacrificing strength or quality.
The Lancashire U team had a bit of help from Scotland-based CelluComp, a company that “develop[s] microfibrillated cellulose based on waste streams of root vegetables.” They market the cellulose they produce as Curran, and it’s already being used in products ranging from paint and ink to drilling fluids.
On the scale of a single cubic meter that might not be such a big deal. But when humans are churning out around 10 billion tons of concrete every year it’s crystal clear just how big an impact this could have on our planet.
Cement production is a very energy-intensive process and a major source of CO2 emissions. On average, 9kg of carbon dioxide are produced for every 10kg of portland cement. Reducing cement use by 10% or so would be a massive environmental win — and these beet and carrot nanosheets could make that possible.
They could also lead to enormous savings on repairs. The research team also found that the nanosheets can also be applied to existing structures to provide a boost in strength and durability.
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