MANHATTAN, KAN. -- Kansas State University civil engineers are developing the right mix to reduce concrete's carbon footprint and make it stronger. Their innovative ingredient: biofuel byproducts.
"The idea is to use bioethanol production byproducts to produce a material to use in concrete as a partial replacement of cement," said Feraidon Ataie, doctoral student in civil engineering, Kabul, Afghanistan. "By using these materials we can reduce the carbon footprint of concrete materials."
Concrete is made from three major components: portland cement, water and aggregate. The world uses nearly 7 billion cubic meters of concrete a year, making concrete the most-used industrial material after water, said Kyle Riding, assistant professor of civil engineering and Ataie's faculty mentor.
"Even though making concrete is less energy intensive than making steel or other building materials, we use so much of it that concrete production accounts for between 3 to 8 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions," Riding said.
To reduce carbon dioxide emissions from concrete production, the researchers are studying environmentally friendly materials that can replace part of the portland cement used in concrete. They are finding success using the byproducts of biofuels made from corn stover, wheat straw and rice straw.
"It is predicted that bioethanol production will increase in the future because of sustainability," Ataie said. "As bioethanol production increases, the amount of the byproduct produced also increases. This byproduct can be used in concrete."
The researchers are specifically looking at byproducts from production of cellulosic ethanol, which is biofuel produced from inedible material such as wood chips, wheat straw or other agricultural residue. Cellulosic ethanol is different from traditional bioethanol, which uses corn and grain to make biofuel. Corn ethanol's byproduct -- called distiller's dried grains -- can
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Kansas State University