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    Gene Wilder in the 1974 spoof 'Young Frankenstein'

    Gene Wilder in the 1974 spoof 'Young Frankenstein'

    With Halloween just gone, this story sounds like something from a horror film. Scientists in Germany have found a way to help recycle concrete – using lightning.

    These real-life Frankensteins have built on work by Russian scientists in the 1940’s, and discovered that although electricity usually prefers to travel through air or water, when you pass a lightning bolt through a solid object it will follow the path of least resistance through the object i.e. the boundaries between the individual components of the concrete, and separate them. The researchers use lab produced lightning bolts, so don’t worry if you thought they would have to wait for thunderstorms in order to use this method.

    At the moment the lightning can be zapped into the concrete at a rate of 0.9 tonnes per hour, and it is estimated that a rate of 18 tonnes would be needed to achieve the optimal efficiency, so there is still plenty of work to do, but the scientists believe that they could have a factory capable of this within 2 years. If this happens it could be massive improvement to the recycling process of concrete, and would be a great help in trying to lower carbon emissions in the future.

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