Fermentation reactor with glass container containing green liquid in controlled movement, pressure and temperature

Bio-concrete and biogenic construction materials with cyanobacteria

Fraunhofer researchers have developed a sustainable method for creating construction materials using cyanobacteria. These bacteria, which multiply through photosynthesis, are combined with aggregates like sand, basalt, or renewable raw materials to produce solid, rock-like structures. Unlike traditional concrete, this process emits no carbon dioxide; instead, it captures and binds CO2 within the material. Cement, a primary component of concrete, is notorious for its high CO2 emissions, contributing significantly to industrial emissions. In 2018, cement production in Germany alone generated about 20 million metric tons of CO2.

The "BioCarboBeton" project, led by the Fraunhofer Institutes IKTS and FEP, introduces an eco-friendly, biologically induced method of producing construction materials. Cyanobacteria, known for their photosynthetic capabilities, form limestone structures called stromatolites by capturing atmospheric CO2. This natural process, replicated technologically by the researchers, results in resilient and durable materials.

Under the guidance of Dr. Matthias Ahlhelm and Dr. Ulla König, the researchers cultivated cyanobacteria in a nutrient solution, optimizing light conditions for bacterial photosynthesis. They added calcium sources to facilitate mineralization and mixed the bacteria with hydrogels and fillers like sand. The mixture is molded and solidified through mineralization, with potential applications in insulation, brick, formwork, and mortar.

The team aims to scale production and explore a circular process, utilizing industrial waste gases for CO2 and renewable resources as fillers. This innovative approach represents a significant step toward a circular economy in construction.

Read the original research news here.

Document Details and Download

Date published
1 June 2024
Publisher (Company, Organisation)
Fraunhofer FEP
Research Project Title
BioCarboBeton Project
Companies mentioned (up to 8); separate by Semikolon
Fraunhofer FEP

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