Carrots make Concrete Stronger and Greener
07, Oct 2018
Prelims level : Science & Technology – Newer Inventions Mains level :
- A group of researchers at Britain’s Lancaster University has been using a household food blender to mix particles from the root vegetable with concrete to see if they can produce a stronger and more environmentally sound product.
- There is a chemical reaction happening between the fibres and the cement. That a carrot is made up nearly entirely of water but still stays rigid and crunchy because of cellulose, a fibrous substance found in all plants. Those fibres have strength characteristics in them. It’s the building blocks of the strength of a vegetable
- The potential of the vegetable-composite concretes lies in the ability of the Nano platelets to increase the amount of calcium silicate hydrate in concrete mixtures, which is the main substance controlling structural performance. The knock-on effect means smaller quantities of concrete would be needed for construction.
- Cellulose is also found in wood, but is easier to extract from vegetables. With large amounts of vegetable waste available as a by-product of agriculture, it is a cheap and environmentally friendly source of the fibres.
- Only a tiny amount of cellulose is needed to alter the properties of cement because it changes the way water behaves during the process when cement hardens
- It increases the strength of concrete by 80 percent by using a small amount of this new material, the addition of carrots prevents any cracks in the concrete. It also means less cement is required, therefore lowering the global carbon dioxide (CO2) output. As cement is responsible for seven percent of total global CO2 emissions, according to International Energy Agency estimates.
- The vegetable-composite concretes, have structurally and environmentally out-performed all commercially-available cement additives, such as graphene and carbon nanotubes, doing so at a much lower cost.