Rice study shows coal-based product could replace sand in concrete
Rice University researchers have discovered that graphene derived from metallurgical coke, a coal-based product, could serve as both a reinforcing additive and a substitute for sand in concrete production. With concrete being one of the most utilized materials globally and sand mining rates exceeding natural replenishment, this innovation addresses the environmental and resource crises associated with sand extraction.
The graphene-based concrete, tested against conventional concrete, demonstrated comparable mechanical properties while being 25% lighter. This discovery is significant as 30% of concrete consists of sand, and the growing demand for concrete, driven by urbanization, exacerbates the sand crisis and carbon emissions from cement production. The graphene production method, utilizing Flash Joule heating, enables large-scale production at a faster rate, potentially offering a more sustainable alternative to traditional concrete production methods. While the viability of this technology depends on graphene's future cost reduction, its potential to improve concrete quality and reduce costs underscores its promise for more sustainable urban development practices.
The research received support from various organizations, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the National Science Foundation.
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