Concrete is one of the most widely used building materials. It is also one of the top contributors to environmental degradation, mostly owing to its wide use. Many harmful emissions, like fly ash are a result of excessive concrete use. However, eco friendly concrete involves greener alternatives to standard concrete. Even simple methods like using concrete as counter-tops, or using concrete that is more porous helps in improving the condition of the environment and sustaining it. A few environmentally friendly alternatives to concrete are listed below:
Carbon concrete, also known as C-Fix, is a very efficient alternative to cement. This substance is a thermoplastic, which essentially means that it softens on heating and hardens on cooling. It has even been tried and tested in Netherlands on two roads that are known for their heavy traffic. Almost 90 percent of the concrete and asphalt found in standard concrete that are responsible for environmental degradation are replaced in this.
EcoX – Eco-Friendly Concrete from MeldUSA
MeldUSA is quite a renowned company famous for making eco friendly alternatives to concrete. One of their latest discoveries is called EcoX. EcoX is constituted of recycled cement as well as other materials that have been used up by consumers as well as industries. It also contains recycled glass. This alternative is excellent for making surfaces, accessories and so.
Water-retentive concrete to keep buildings cool
Two Japanese companies, Geostr Corporation and Kajima Corporation have jointly discovered a new form of concrete that is water retentive, and that helps in cooling buildings if placed on roof tops in block structures.
Precast Concrete walls to suck up CO2 from air
A Canadian environmental consultancy called Carbon Sense Solutions has come up with this new method known as CO2 accelerated concrete curing. It essentially involves precast concrete that can store an increased amount of CO2 in itself. The method has been claimed to reduce up to around one percent of annual global CO2 emissions that could make a huge difference in the long run.
High-performance concrete to store more solar energy for less
Super concrete is a form of concrete, still in the developmental stages, that can store thermal energy in huge amounts at a very low cost. Currently, the technologies used enable storage of thermal energy at a maximum of 325 degrees Celsius. However, if this operating temperature is increased to around 600, the cost of storing thermal energy will reduce drastically. Research is in progress for the same.
All the alternatives to concrete listed above have many benefits. The biggest benefit is that most of these use materials that are available from local and easy sources. It involves using recycled materials. This not only reduces the waste but also replaces the toxic qualities of concrete with cleaner and environmentally friendly solutions. This helps in maintaining long term sustainability in the environment.
There are a few low-downs of using eco friendly concrete. In cases where it is is used in flooring, concrete may not be the best option as it may be required to be sealed again quite a few times in a year, depending on the cracks. Also, in cases where recycled concrete is used to produce eco friendly concrete, quality control mechanisms will have to be used to assess the quality of the recycled cement being re-used.
Eco-friendly concrete has a very good impact on the environment. It reduces many toxic emissions like fly ash released into the atmosphere. It is also quite cheap to manufacture as it essentially uses waste products as its raw materials. It also helps to save energy, as re-using used concrete reduces the energy used in production of cement. It also has greater strength as well as greater durability than standard concrete.