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Low-cost concrete alternative absorbs CO2

Codes and Standards

Low-cost concrete alternative absorbs CO2

Researchers develop material that could mitigate climate change, improve infrastructure.


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | February 28, 2022
CO2-absorbing material
Courtesy Pixabay.

Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute have developed a new CO2-absorbing material that’s a low-cost alternative to concrete.
 
Cement production is one of the largest contributors to climate change. As published in the journal Matter, the research has led to the creation of a self-healing Enzymatic Construction Material that the research team describes as a “living material” that “provides a pathway to repair or even replace [traditional] concrete in the future.”
 
The material uses an enzyme, carbonic anhydrase, found in all living cells. Carbonic anhydrase efficiently reacts with CO2, and “has the unique ability to rapidly remove the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. This property has allowed us to formulate a carbon-negative material,” says Richard Whitcomb Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Suzanne Scarlata.
 
Researchers say the material has “outstanding” compression strength, rivaling traditional mortar, making it strong enough to use in the construction of bridges or buildings as compressive elements. The research team plans to take steps to bring the material out of the lab soon and work toward commercialization.
 

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