Wood waste strengthens recycled concrete, new study finds

February 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Research from the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science has revealed that discarded concrete can be strengthened with the addition of wood waste. This pioneering technique promises to be an environmentally friendly way to enhance concrete structures while simultaneously reducing construction costs and curtailing carbon emissions . It is hoped that this groundbreaking new method will help make better use of old concrete and any waste plant or wood materials. With traditional methods, reusing old concrete is unfeasible. The research team’s first author, Li Liang, explained, “Just reusing the aggregate from old concrete is unsustainable, because it is the production of new cement that is driving climate change emissions.” The team, therefore, sought to find a better approach, particularly one that would “help promote the circular economy of concrete,” according to the University of Tokyo. Related: 11 green building materials that are way better than concrete The innovative process involves taking discarded concrete and grinding it into a powder. Wood waste is also sourced from sawdust, scrap wood and other agricultural waste. Rather than sending this wood off to landfills, it is instead leveraged in the concrete recycling process for the key ingredient, lignin. Lignin is an organic polymer that comprises wood’s vascularized tissue and accounts for wood’s rigidity. The concrete, now in powder form, is then combined with water and the lignin to form a mixture. This mixture is both heated and pressurized, allowing for the lignin to become an adhesive that fills the gaps between the concrete particles. What results is a newly formed concrete with stronger malleability than the original concrete. Additionally, the lignin makes this new, recycled concrete more biodegradable . “Most of the recycled products we made exhibited better bending strength than that of ordinary concrete,” said Yuya Sakai, team lead and senior author of the study. “These findings can promote a move toward a greener, more economical construction industry that not only reduces the stores of waste concrete and wood , but also helps address the issue of climate change .” + The University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science Via New Atlas Image via Philipp Dümcke

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Wood waste strengthens recycled concrete, new study finds

Here’s what could go wrong with the circular economy — and how to keep it on track

October 18, 2019 by  
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We must make sure that increasing the efficiency of our industrial systems doesn’t lead to more consumption.

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Here’s what could go wrong with the circular economy — and how to keep it on track

Britain promises net-zero emissions by 2050

June 14, 2019 by  
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Britain recently upped the ante on its commitment to fight climate change , promising to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The new governmental plan is more ambitious than its original Climate Change Act from 2008, which pledged to reduce emissions by 80 percent. Prime Minister Theresa May claimed net-zero is a necessary step for Britain and a moral duty as well as a strategy to improve public health and reduce healthcare costs. Britain is the first G7 country to propose carbon neutrality, an ambitious goal that environmentalists hope will encourage other nations to follow suit and increase their Paris Agreement emission reduction commitments. Related: Labour party launches solar panel program for 1.75M homes According to Prime Minister May, Britain’s economy can continue to grow alongside the transition to renewable energy . “We have made huge progress in growing our economy and the jobs market while slashing emissions,” she said. Net-zero on a national level will mean that effectively all homes, transportation, farming and industries will not consume more energy than the country can generate through renewable energy. For certain cases where this is impossible, it will mean that companies and industries purchase carbon offsets. The roll out of this plan is to be determined but must include a variety of individual- and national-level actions, including a massive investment in the renewable energy industry as well as a reduction in meat consumption and flying and a total shift to electric cars, LED light bulbs and hydrogen gas heating. According to BBC, Prime Minister May also claimed that the U.K. “led the world to wealth through fossil fuels in the industrial revolution, so it was appropriate for Britain to lead in the opposite direction.” This claim erases the true legacy of the industrial revolution and the role Britain played, which includes environmental destruction, exacerbated inequality and economic exploitation of many nations — not wealth. Whether or not Britain is a world leader, its pledge might convince other nations to increase or at least stick to their commitments to reduce emissions . Via BBC Image via Sebastian Ganso

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Britain promises net-zero emissions by 2050

Studio NAB wants to boost urban biodiversity with an insect hotel at a bus stop

June 14, 2019 by  
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Waiting for the bus is usually a drag, but what if the experience could instead become an opportunity to be closer to nature? French design practice Studio NAB has reinterpreted the humble bus stop as a hub for biodiversity that offers a “hotel” for birds and insects of all varieties. Built from recycled materials and topped with a vegetated green roof, the proposed Hotel Bus Stop aims to promote the population of native pollinating insects and reconnect people to nature. Studio NAB designed the Hotel Bus Stop to serve five purposes: to promote the presence of pollinating insects; to bring adults and children closer to nature and promote environmental awareness and education; to showcase architecture constructed from recycled materials such as wood, cardboard and stainless steel; to introduce urban greenery and improve air quality with a vegetated roof and exposed plant wall; and to create “green jobs” for maintenance around the bus stops. Related: 6 fun, fantastic bus stops from around the world “A broad scientific consensus now recognizes the role of man in the decline of biomass and biodiversity in general and that of insects in particular,” Studio NAB explained in a project statement. “The use of pesticides in intensive agriculture, the destruction of natural habitats, excessive urbanization, global warming and various pollutions are at the origin of this hecatomb. Our hegemony allied to our conscience obliges us today to fulfill a role of ‘guardian’ and to allow the ‘living’ to take its place in order to fight against the erosion of our biodiversity.” Envisioned for city centers and “eco-neighborhoods,” The Hotel Bus Stop would provide more habitats for pollinating insects that are essential for our food system and gardens, from fruit trees and vegetables to ornamental flowers. Auxiliary insects would also benefit, such as lacewings and earwigs that feed on aphids, a common garden pest. The underside of the bus stop roof would include boxes to encourage nesting by various bird species found throughout the city. + Studio NAB Images via Studio NAB

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Studio NAB wants to boost urban biodiversity with an insect hotel at a bus stop

Carbon capture is the only way to address the world’s climate blindspots

January 25, 2019 by  
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Science tells us that we need to use negative-emissions technologies to fight climate change — and that starts in the industrial sector.

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Carbon capture is the only way to address the world’s climate blindspots

A new way to curb nitrogen pollution: Regulate fertilizer producers, not just farmers

January 25, 2019 by  
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Make the industry better design out the superpollutant from fertilizers — don’t blame the consumers with few other options.

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A new way to curb nitrogen pollution: Regulate fertilizer producers, not just farmers

How to save a shelf-life: cutting down on food waste across its supply chain

January 25, 2019 by  
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Here’s how better packaging and labeling can help change throw-away culture.

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How to save a shelf-life: cutting down on food waste across its supply chain

Large scale 3D Printer capable of printing a motorcycle

December 17, 2018 by  
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Just a few years ago, 3D printing capability was relatively new technology. A home 3D printer could perhaps create a single printed letter or figure if left to work overnight. Advancements in the industry have been fast and furious with new technology offering recognizably sci-fi-like options. While companies have made news with efforts to print homes for a solution to housing shortages or printed skin in the name of medical advancement, one company has created a prototype that proves transportation could be the next evolution of 3D printing. Created thanks to the advanced technology of a high-capacity printer, the NERA 3D-printed motorcycle prototype is the first fully functional model of its kind. NOWlab, the innovation department at BigRep, is the creative force behind the design. Based out of Germany, the company is putting tracks down as the world’s leader in large-scale 3D printers. Related: The world’s first 3D-printed steel bridge looks like it came from another planet The NERA was manufactured to show the potential of these printers. Note that the motorcycle is a prototype only and not for sale to the public. However, there is much to be learned from the prototype itself and it leans towards limitless potential in the industry. Components of the NERA are almost hard to comprehend when you realize that it all came out of a printer, far from the traditional production line of Yamaha or Harley Davidson. Literally from the ground up, this motorcycle has all non-electrical printed parts, 15 in all, that include tires, rim, frame, fork and seat. Not only are the parts printed, but they are stylistic and performance-based. For example, the airless tires with customized tread offer a design of strength and support. The rims are lightweight but durable, providing a smooth ride. Eight pivot joints provide forkless steering for easy maneuverability. Another unique engineering development is the lack of suspension, replaced by flexible bumpers. The Nera (N)ew (ERA) is powered by an electric engine, fitted into a customizable case. Related: This portable 3D skin printer can heal deep wounds in minutes We wouldn’t expect the company to stop driving innovation forward at any point soon with a focus on potential future uses of large-scale 3D printer capacity. “These exciting prototypes not only demonstrate the unprecedented capacity of FFF large-scale 3D printing technology in Additive Manufacturing,” said Stephan Beyer, PhD, CEO of BigRep GmbH. “They also emphasize our unique ability as the market’s innovation and thought leader to bring cutting-edge technologies from design to reality, providing an added-value market lead for our industrial customers.” + BigRep Gmb Images via BigRep GmbH

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Large scale 3D Printer capable of printing a motorcycle

Solar outshined all fossil-fuels sources combined in 2017

April 19, 2018 by  
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Last year, the world invested more in solar power than all fossil-fuel sources combined. Investors and governments installed an all-time record of 157 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity, according to a new report from the United Nations (UN). In 2017, the world installed 98 W of solar capacity, nearly half of which was in China. The net new capacity from fossil fuels was only 70W in 2017. “We are at a turning point … from fossil fuels to the renewable world,” UN Environment head Erik Solheim told Reuters . “The markets are there and renewables can take on coal, they can take on oil and gas.” Although renewable energy is clearly the way of the future, fossil fuels remain the dominant source of energy on the planet. Only 12.1 percent of the world’s electricity came from renewable energy sources, an improvement on 5.2 percent in 2007. This boom in renewable energy has been backed by strong investment in recent years. In 2017, global investment in renewable energy rose by two percent. China invested $122.6 billion, 45 percent of global investment and the most of any country, into the industry in the same year. Related: World’s largest solar energy project will be 100 times bigger than any other on the planet Governments and investors have noticed a change in the fundamentals behind renewable energy. “Much lower costs … are the driver of solar investment worldwide,” said report lead author Angus McCrone told Reuters . For example, the cost of energy production through large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) decreased by 15 percent last year to $86 per megawatt hour. Even with an administration hostile to renewable energy in the White House, the drive towards renewable energy continues. “Trump can no more brake this than those who opposed the Industrial Revolution could stop the Industrial Revolution,” said Solheim. President Trump recently signed a government spending bill that retained many of the existing tax credits for renewable energy in the United States . Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Solar outshined all fossil-fuels sources combined in 2017

UK plans to ban the sales of plastic straws to tackle ocean plastic pollution

April 19, 2018 by  
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8.5 billion plastic straws are tossed out in the United Kingdom every year, according to a recent study cited by the government . They plan to take action — by ending sales of plastic-stemmed cotton buds and plastic drink stirrers and straws in a bid to reduce ocean plastic waste. The UK is cracking down on ocean plastic . The government announced the ban at the summit for the Commonwealth heads of government. Prime Minister Theresa May said, “ Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world…the British public have shown passion and energy embracing our plastic bag charge and microbead ban .” Related: Queen of England bans plastic bottles and straws at royal estates The ban won’t take effect immediately; the statement said the government would work with industries to ensure time to adapt and create alternatives. Plastic straws utilized for medical reasons could also be excluded from the ban. May challenged other countries in the Commonwealth, which includes 53 member countries across Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean, to battle marine plastic as well. The UK government is committing to £61.4 million, around $87.4 million, in funding for research and better waste management for developing countries , according to May, who said, “The Commonwealth is a unique organization, with a huge diversity of wildlife, environments, and coastlines. Together we can effect real change so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it.” The UK government’s microbead ban went into effect in January of this year, and their five pence single-use plastic bag law has resulted in nine billion fewer bags distributed, according to the government. Another statistic the government drew on to back the plastic straw scheme is that one million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals perish due to eating plastic waste and getting tangled in it. They also said there are more than 150 million metric tons of plastic in the oceans on our planet. + United Kingdom Government Images via Depositphotos and Carly Jayne on Unsplash

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UK plans to ban the sales of plastic straws to tackle ocean plastic pollution

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