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    Living Concrete!

    Moss Covered 'Living' Building

    Moss Covered 'Living' Building

    If you missed our Spanish and mainly Barcelona themed blogs last summer like this one on the Sagrada Familia, and this one about Gaudi’s Park Guell, then here is another one that may have you longing for warmer climates.

    Researchers at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona have created a type of concrete that supports and accelerates the growth of microalgae, fungi, lichens and mosses. It consists of four layers, the first being a structural layer, next a waterproof layer which protects the structural layer from water damage, then the biological layer which actually supports the colonisation of the various organisms, and finally a discontinuous coating layer with a reverse waterproofing function, that redirects the flow of water to where it’s needed.

    The researchers claim that this new material will absorb CO2 from the surrounding area helping to improve the air quality, as well as capture solar radiation which will help to regulate the temperature inside of the building, making any structure built with this material a great benefit to the local environment. “The biological concrete acts not only as an insulating material and a thermal regulator, but also as an ornamental alternative,” said the research team.

    You can see the original article here.

    Self-Repairing Concrete

    Concrete

    Concrete Mixed With Bacterial Spores

    Imagine if your pattern imprinted concrete driveway never needed maintenance, and any weathering, cracks and other damage would heal by itself. It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but Dutch scientists are nearly ready to begin tests that could make it a reality.

    Microbiologist Henk Jonkers and concrete technologist Eric Schlangen have been working at Delft Technical University in The Netherlands to engineer the new type of concrete. “In the lab we have been able to show healing of cracks with a width of 0.5mm. Now we are upscaling”, explained Dr Jonkers. They are currently trying to reduce the considerable cost of the process, but they believe that they can do this and be ready to begin testing in around 6 months, with a view to commercialising it in 2-3 years.

    The process works by mixing bacterial spores and the nutrients they feed on into the concrete. When the spores come into contact with water, they begin to feed on the nutrients and produce limestone, which begins to fill the cracks through which the water got in.

    Concrete is the most popular building material in the world, and if the lifespan of it can be significantly extended it should lead to reduced costs and better structures for everyone. If it can be incorporated into pattern imprinted concrete, then we should see significant savings on maintenance in the future.

    It’s Alive!

    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.

    TARMAC Sustainable Energy

    TARMAC, a leading UK construction materials company, and a major concrete supplier, has become a founder signatory to the revised Concrete Industry Sustainable Construction Strategy. The strategy comprises of six commitments designed to help companies try and deliver a zero-carbon built environment though monitoring and providing transparent whole-life data, sharing best practice, low carbon transport, monitoring water usage, targeting continuous improvement in sustainable production performance and reporting performance annually.

    Dr Martyn Kenny, Director of Sustainability at Tarmac, says: “The concrete sector has made great progress in measuring, managing and reducing its impact, while enhancing its contribution to creating a sustainable and zero-carbon built environment. We recognise that we need to continue this important work and the new Concrete Industry Sustainable Construction Strategy provides an effective way to lead the construction sector and drive further progress.”

    As well as this commitment, TARMAC recently achieved the Carbon Trust Standard across its whole business, having 100 per cent of its products certified as responsibly sourced, and the industry’s first five-star rating from Achilles BuildingConfidence for effective supply chain management.

    Ecobuild 2012

    Ecobuild, the world’s leading event for sustainable design and construction, and the largest construction event of any kind in the UK, was held in London last month.  Among the high profile guests were Members of Parliament Alan Johnson and Jack Straw, former MP and television personality Michael Portillo, and other well known television hosts Jonathan Dimbleby, Janet Street Porter and Monty Don.

    Some of the highlights of the show included the ‘Practical Installer’, which gave live demonstrations on how to install micro-renewable technologies, ‘Fabric First’ which showed viewers how to use different building fabrics and interact them with each other, and ‘Renew’, which gave advice on obtaining a highly efficicent, energy saving building.  The show had over 1,500 exhibitors, 130 free seminars and dozens of live attractions and live demonstrations, making it the biggest Ecobuild ever.

    The event was attended by over 57,000 visitors over the 3 day period, and was hailed a huge success by both visitors and exhibitors.

    As readers of our blog, you’ll know we like to keep a close eye on eco-friendly and renewable developments in the construction area, so hearing and reading about advances that we might use ourselves in concrete driveways is great!

    You can click here to visit the Ecobuild website.

    Complete Driveway Designs Ltd

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