Biofuels and Green Concrete

Courtesy: [5]

In the development of new energy resources, researchers explore every possible revenue stream to make a resource economically viable.  In the case of corn ethanol, that means selling a portion of the waste stream as cattle feed [1].   When it comes to switch grass, wood chips and other cellulosic materials, however, the waste stream has largely been dumped or burned.  Thanks to some promising research at Kansas State University, that could change.

Researchers at the school found that the byproducts of lignin and cellulosic material could be used in concrete mixes to strengthen the material up to 30% while significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions [2].  This finding goes hand in hand with a new report from the National Institutes of Standards and Technology.  The NIST report looked at different mixes already being used to ‘green’ concrete and the kinds of measurements necessary to ensure the concrete remains strong [3].

Cement PlantCourtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Cement Plant Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

In order to understand the implications of these findings, it is helpful to see the energy and environmental impacts of concrete production. The U.S. cement industry uses some “400 million gigajoules of energy each year, which is equivalent to the energy required to power 3 million homes each year [4].”  Carbon dioxide emissions for the industry account for 5% of the U.S. total, according to the same report.

While the KSU study remains in the early stages, the findings pose a promising win, win, win scenario for biofuels, concrete and the environment.








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