Concrete is the world’s most widely used construction material. Cement production accounts for 5% of man made carbon dioxide emissions produced globally. In the era of climate change, this has got scientists thinking and rethinking concrete.
A team of scientists in the UK have come up with a new concrete formula that can actually trap greenhouse gasses. Additionally, this new formula of concrete can self-seal cracks as they form. The secret to this new concrete that is being developed at the University of Exeter, is the introduction of microscopic flakes of graphene. Graphene is one of the world’s strongest materials. With the added graphene, the concrete compound is actually stronger than regular concrete. Because it is stronger, less material would need to be used, opening up possibilities for new designs, and overall reducing the amount of materials needed for a given structure.
This new “green” concrete is also more elastic and more resistant to water. This makes it ideal for building in earthquake or flood zones. The new compound can conduct electricity, opening the possibility to use it to heat roads or walls to melt snow and ice.
Although the green concrete shows promise in many areas of design and construction, it is at the moment costly to produce. Too costly to become viable replacement for the old stuff. Also, it will likely undergo years more of study to determine the parameters of safe useage, and any potential health risks. This article goes into detail about graphene-concrete.