Concerns about climate change and dwindling natural resources are having an impact on many industries, including the construction sector. Researchers, manufacturers, architects, builders, and even an anchor bolt manufacturer, all of them are collaborating to find solutions.
They are working on developing new construction materials and more in order to reduce their industry’s impact on the environment and contribute to a greener future.
The Problem with Concrete Use
Billions of tons of concrete are produced around the world every year. It is the most widely used synthetic material and the manufacturing process contributes about 5 to 10 percent of carbon dioxide to global emissions. Nearly every aspect of production releases large amounts of carbon dioxide due to cement requiring much energy and high temperatures to produce.
A leading distributor of fasteners, Baco Enterprises Inc (bacoent.com), believes that innovations are needed in the construction industry at every level. Everyone, from manufacturers to customers, is placing a greater emphasis on conserving energy, protecting the environment and saving costs.
A More Durable, Stronger, Greener Construction Binder
Recently, a new construction binder that is stronger, more durable and greener has been developed. It came from an undergraduate student at UNIST out of a desire to improve the quality of construction materials and reduce environmental pollution.
It is made mostly of fly ash, a by-product of coal-fired power plants. The fly ash that remains after coal dust is burned is a waste management issue. Most of it ends up in landfills, where it can leach into the environment.
In his third year at the School of Urban and Environmental Engineering at UNIST, Dongho Jeon did work with Professor Jae Eun Oh on research that led to this invention. Mr. Jeon says that the fly ash generated in the South Korean power plants tends to show lower reactivity and a decrease in strength.
He thought of ways to enhance its intensity and succeeded in doing so. The new zero cement fly ash construction binder shows a five times higher intensity than that of existing fly ash binders. The findings of this research were published in the January 2015 issue of Cement and Concrete Research.
The new binder technology is competitive in price and lightness, both essential in the construction industry. The product is going into production following an agreement with Hawoo Eco-friendly Construction Materials Co. Ltd., which includes a KRW 100 million initial payment for transfer of the technology and a running royalty of 1.5 percent of the total revenue generated from the transfer to UNIST.
Hawoo is establishing a factory with specialized manufacturing facilities and plans to sell lightweight aggregate made primarily of fly ash to its local concrete plants.
In general, the construction industry consumes 40 percent of total energy and about one-half of the world’s major resources. This is why less consumption in the construction industry is key.
Sustainable use of resources plays an important part in developing sustainable constructions. Innovations, such as the green, zero cement, fly ash construction binder could begin to transform the construction industry. The fly ash becomes a useful commodity instead of a waste product and it’s a win-win situation for the environment and the construction industry.