Carrots, Beets Used to Strengthen Concrete
Engineers at the United Kingdom’s Lancaster University say they have found a way to both strengthen concrete and make it more environmentally friendly by adding nano platelets extracted from root vegetables.
The researchers, in partnership with material science company Cellucomp Ltd., are embarking on a two-year research project that’s building on early test findings that have shown the improved mechanical properties of concrete after nano platelets from sugar beets or carrots have been added.
“These vegetable-composite concretes were also found to out-perform all commercially available cement additives, such as graphene and carbon nanotubes and at a much lower cost,” according to the university.
“The root vegetable nano platelets work both to increase the amount of calcium silicate hydrate—the main substance that controls the performance of concrete, and stop any cracks that appear in the concrete.”
The vegetable-based composite was also found to have a denser microstructure, according to researchers, which would help prevent corrosion.
The research, funded by 195,000 pounds from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 funding, is primarily looking at how, in addition to strength properties, the formula can result in less CO2 emissions.
According to the university, the early studies showed that the use of the root vegetable nano platelets resulted in saving 40 kilograms of ordinary Portland cement per cubic meter of concrete, meaning it would save 40 kilograms of CO2 for the same volume.
In addition to the cement mixture, the project will also look at the use of adding thin sheets of vegetable nano platelets to existing concrete structures as reinforcement, rather than alternatives such as carbon fiber.