Concrete is the most widely used building material in the world: Many millions of tons of concrete are used every year. It forms the foundation of our infrastructure - from roads to bridges, railroad tracks and airports. And it protects us from rain, cold and natural disasters. Its mixture of sand, gravel, cement and water - raw materials that occur everywhere - is what makes it so popular. Its properties are also unique: concrete is flexible, extremely robust and the only building material that meets the highest fire safety requirements.
But concrete also has its downsides: Large amounts of energy are consumed to produce cement, which is the main ingredient in concrete, and on top of that, significant CO2 emissions are generated. Up to 8% of the world's CO2 comes from the production of concrete. If the concrete industry were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of CO2 after China and the USA.
Researchers are working on sustainable solutions in various projects. A German-African cooperation at BAM has now developed a climate-friendly alternative that is just as resilient and safe as conventional concrete...
Much more than water, cement and sand:
Research on "bio-concrete" creates regional networks
BAM supports African scientists in their research on concrete and binders and in organizing workshops on sustainable cement. The solutions that BAM develops with its African research partners always take regional conditions into account. For example, a project in Nigeria with the University of Lagos uses shells from the roots of the cassava plant. This plant is widely cultivated in West Africa, but its shells have so far remained unused as a waste product. At the University of Lagos, research has been conducted for several years on the utilization of cassava peels through incineration. The result: the ash contains large amounts of silicon dioxide and aluminum oxide, making it well suited as a cement substitute in concrete.
The research on bio-concrete was awarded the German-African Innovation Prize by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in 2018. The money will be used to construct the first building made of cassava concrete: A bus shelter on the grounds of the University of Lagos, which will also serve as an information center for sustainable construction.
For more information on green concrete research at BAM, please visit www.bam.de/green-concrete
Even the ancient Romans used concrete: The Pantheon in Rome is the largest dome in the world made of unreinforced concrete.
More than just a building material
The world's first concrete sound panel was developed at BAM in 2015 using ultra-high performance concrete. The record features "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones.