Rethinking Concrete: Innovations to Reduce its Carbon Footprint

The concrete industry is at a pivotal moment as the world grapples with the environmental impact of this ubiquitous construction material, which accounts for approximately 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions. With an annual production of about 30 billion tons of concrete, three times more than four decades ago, innovative solutions are on the rise to create lower-carbon alternatives.

One approach involves drawing inspiration from the past. Dmat, a deep tech startup, develops self-healing concrete inspired by Ancient Roman techniques. Meanwhile, a team of researchers at Northwestern University is working on “Martian concrete” that boasts more than double the strength of traditional concrete and doesn’t require water. Over the years, researchers have also experimented with unconventional materials, such as volcanic ash, carbon black, rice husk ash, algae, and even human hair. However, while these experiments may make headlines, Professor Christopher Cheeseman of Imperial College London argues that they are unlikely to have a substantial global impact in reducing concrete’s carbon footprint. “You can take coffee grinds and put them into concrete, and maybe you can make something locally that is quite clever, but it’s going to have zero impact globally,” he says.

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Building the Future: Transforming Plastic Waste into Construction Blocks

Most of us have fond memories of building with Lego bricks as kids, imagining the possibility of creating life-sized structures. Now, a Los Angeles-based startup, ByFusion, has taken that childhood dream and turned it into reality by crafting construction bricks from recycled plastic. These bricks, known as ByBlocks, are sturdy enough for use in the construction industry.

ByFusion’s innovative process amalgamates various types of plastic waste, from bottles to grocery bags, into a single, large plastic block—the ByBlock. This inventive approach presents a solution to the pervasive issue of plastic pollution, which often accumulates in landfills or pollutes water sources, adversely affecting ecosystems and breaking down into harmful microplastics.

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Massive Phosphate Rock Deposit in Norway Could Satisfy Global Demand for Green Technologies for a Century

A significant phosphate rock deposit discovered in south-western Norway by Norge Mining has the potential to meet the global demand for batteries and solar panels for the next 100 years. The mining company estimates that up to 70 billion tonnes of phosphate rock, along with deposits of other strategic minerals like titanium and vanadium, may have been uncovered. This discovery is crucial as phosphorus is a key component for building green technologies but currently faces supply challenges.

Phosphate Rock and Its Importance: Phosphate rock is rich in phosphorus, a vital ingredient in lithium-iron phosphate batteries for electric cars, solar panels, and computer chips. The history of phosphorus dates back to 1669 when German scientist Hennig Brandt discovered it while searching for the philosopher’s stone. While it didn’t possess the power to turn metals into gold, it has become an essential resource for various technological advancements.

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Hyundai delivers first fuel cell trucks to Switzerland


LUCERNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – South Korean carmaker Hyundai on Wednesday presented the first seven hydrogen-powered trucks to customers in Switzerland, out of 50 such vehicles scheduled this year to bring zero-emission commercial vehicles to European roads.

For long haul, proponents say hydrogen-powered trucks have an advantage over electric rivals as they have a greater range and require less charging times but their uptake and mass production has been slow because they are expensive.

However, a McKinsey study in January said that once relative efficiencies of the power sources and lifetime costs of a truck are factored in, green hydrogen could reach cost parity with diesel by 2030.

Hyundai has been partnering with Swiss companies to build a value chain covering the production of green hydrogen from hydropower, hydrogen charging stations and the service and maintenance of the trucks.

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The world’s growing concrete coasts


The world’s coastlines are turning to concrete, at a huge cost to wildlife and the climate. But new technologies may offer a way to shore up coasts while benefiting biodiversity.

It’s one of the most impressive feats in modern engineering, and crossing the world’s longest sea bridge – the 55km (34 miles) Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, which opened in October 2018 at a cost of $20bn (£15.9bn) – certainly has its benefits. But impressive as it appears, this mammoth construction project, like so many others, has come at a cost.

No less than one million tonnes of concrete were used in the eight years it took to build the bridge. It was this concrete that invaded the habitat of the critically endangered pink dolphin, and is thought to be the reason that dead dolphins washed up on nearby shores while the population near the bridge plummeted by 60%. Of course, dolphins weren’t the only victims – habitats are destroyed and countless other marine species are affected when large amounts of concrete are poured into the ocean.

Destruction of this kind is often the cost of using concrete – the most widely used manmade material on Earth. With three tonnes per year used for every person in the world, there are few parts of the planet that concrete hasn’t reached. The production of concrete is also a huge emitter of CO2. At least 8% of humanity’s carbon footprint comes from the concrete industry, mostly from the production of cement – one of concrete’s principal components. The cement industry generates around 2.8 billion tonnes of CO2 per year – more than any country other than China or the US.

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Envisioning and designing a floating future



A prototype deployed in San Francisco Bay may signal what’s to come: floating buildings, or whole communities, built to withstand sea-level rise.

ON AN August day that is brutally hot by San Francisco’s foggy standards, Margaret Ikeda and Evan Jones, architecture faculty at the California College of the Arts (CCA), are on one of the campus’ back lots to present a vision of the future — though at first glance, the object they’re showing off doesn’t look like much. It’s white, roughly heart-shaped, and about the size of a sedan.

As a prototype for what the underside of a floating building — or possibly a whole floating community — might look like, however, it represents years of imagination, research, design, and testing. It also represents the hopeful vision of Ikeda, Jones, and their CCA colleague Adam Marcus, who together developed the concept with an eye toward a future of flooding amid steadily rising seas — particularly for the 10 percent of the world’s population that lives in low-lying coastal areas.

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Acclaimed Israeli astrophysicist suggests the sun drives Earth’s climate, not CO2


Nir Shaviv is an Israeli astrophysicist and chairman of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University’s physics department. He says that his research, and that of colleagues, suggests that rising CO2 levels play only a minor role in earth’s climate compared to the influence of the sun and cosmic radiation.

“Global warming clearly is a problem, though not in the catastrophic terms of Al Gore’s movies or environmental alarmists,” said Shaviv. “Climate change has existed forever and is unlikely to go away. But CO2 emissions don’t play the major role. Periodic solar activity does.”

But I thought that 97% of climate scientists agreed that human activity is the main driver of climate change?

“Only people who don’t understand science take the 97% statistic seriously,” said Shaviv. “Survey results depend on who you ask, who answers and how the questions are worded. In any case, science is not a democracy. Even if 100% of scientists believe something, one person with good evidence can still be right.”

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This cool artificial reef was just deployed in Sydney Harbor


Earth’s oceans have seen better days. They’re inundated with plastic waste, both whole single-use plastics and tons of plastic microparticles that find their way back into our food and drinking water. Their water temperatures are rising due to climate change, causing coral bleaching and other harmful phenomena. Overfishing has depleted multiple marine species.

Organizations and individuals around the world have leaped to action to try to reverse some of the damage human activity has caused the oceans. The Ocean Cleanup is using a two-kilometer-long screen to collect plastic waste. Origin Materials aims to make a new type of plastic that’s sustainable and renewable. The 5 Gyres Institute’s mission is to end plastic pollution, which it calls a global health crisis

Last week another effort joined the ranks: a purpose-built artificial reef in Sydney Harbor. The result of a three-year partnership between the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the Sydney Opera House, and the government of New South Wales, the reef was made by Reef Design Lab and consists of eight one-meter-tall pods, each containing three steel and concrete hexagonal structures. Half the units also have triangular tiles extending from the hexagons’ cores.

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Scientists have found an easy way to remove CO2 from air & reduce global warming


A number of research teams around the world are currently working towards scrubbing all the excess carbon dioxide from the air. It’s one of the prime reasons we are seeing record breaking rise in temperature across India this summer.

Not only could this do wonders to push back global warming, but we can also put all of that CO2 to good use in other applications.

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Earth’s mysterious ‘deep biosphere’ may harbor millions of undiscovered species


Scientists say the underground ecosystems are a “subterranean Galapagos” just waiting to be studied.

This unidentified nematode from the Kopanang gold mine in South Africa lives 1.4 kilometers below the surface.Gaetan Borgonie / Extreme Life Isyensya, Belgium

Life on Earth takes billions of shapes, but to see most of them you’ll have to dig deep below the planet’s surface.

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‘LarvalBot’ underwater drone will reseed coral reefs damaged by climate change


Since August 2018, the Great Barrier Reef in the ocean off Australia has had a special protector — an autonomous underwater drone called RangerBot that has monitored the status of the reef and protected the corals from the predatory crown-of-thorns starfish. But now researchers at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia have announced that the RangerBot has a new mission: it is to be rechristened “LarvalBot” and will be repurposed to spread coral babies.

Scientists have collected hundreds of millions of coral spawn from the surviving corals of the Great Barrier Reef which have not yet succumbed to coral bleaching. These spawn are then reared into baby corals in special floating enclosures, and once they have grown large enough to survive on their own, they are delivered by the LarvalBot to a designated location in the reef. If necessary, many coral larvae can be distributed at once in a “larval cloud” that can blanket an entire damaged area of a reef. This technique is called larval restoration and may be reef’s best hope for the future.

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Stephen Hawking’s incredible predictions in 2017


Stephen Hawking is known for his groundbreaking achievements in science, but many do not realize that the physicist is also recognized for making predictions about the future of humanity and Earth. This year the Oxford professor made some of the most unusual predictions to date, some of which may put a slight damper on your New Year’s festivities.

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