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Transforming Waste into Strength: The Graphene Revolution in Concrete Recycling
Dr Aliakbar Gholampour, Senior Lecturer in Civil and Structural Engineering, College of Science and Engineering, testing the coarse aggregates at Flinders University's Tonsley campus in Adelaide, South Australia.
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Transforming Waste into Strength: The Graphene Revolution in Concrete Recycling
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Dec 07, 2023

When disaster strikes, or aging buildings and infrastructure require replacement, massive amounts of concrete often end up in landfills or are crushed into rubble for various purposes. This conventional practice not only leads to substantial waste but also exacerbates the environmental impact of the construction industry. Flinders University and The University of Melbourne have embarked on a mission to transform this paradigm through the integration of graphene, as a 'secret' ingredient that promises to elevate recycled concrete to new heights of strength, durability, and sustainability.

This novel approach involves the "upcycling" of coarse aggregate from old concrete using graphene. Graphene, a remarkable pseudo two-dimensional material composed of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice, is the key to this transformation. Researchers have harnessed the potential of graphene to enhance the properties of recycled concrete aggregates, resulting in a product that can potentially surpass untreated recycled aggregates in cement-based mixtures.

A Solution for Sustainable Construction
The significance of this innovation extends beyond the laboratory. The construction industry faces a pressing need to address waste management, with demolition and construction waste expected to reach a staggering 2.6 billion tonnes globally by 2030. Simultaneously, the production of conventional concrete contributes to climate change, with greenhouse gas emissions and extraction methods taking a toll on the environment.

By improving the quality of recycled concrete aggregates, this pioneering method not only enhances the quality, performance, and workability of recycled concrete but also reduces its environmental footprint. Dr. Aliakbar Gholampour, the first author of a recent article in Resources, Conservation and Recycling and a Senior Lecturer in Civil and Structural Engineering at Flinders University, emphasizes the long-term cost-effectiveness of this approach. He states, "This new form of treated recycled concrete aggregates may be more expensive to make right now, but when considering circularity and the life cycle of the materials, the costs are coming down rapidly."

Meeting Global Demand for Building Materials
Moreover, the success of this innovative method could address the growing global demand for building materials. Dr. Gholampour has even filed a patent for the approach, underlining its potential to reshape the construction industry.

As the construction industry grapples with the imperative of sustainability, the integration of graphene into concrete recycling presents a promising solution. Flinders University and The University of Melbourne are at the forefront of this revolution, demonstrating that the future of construction can be both environmentally responsible and economically viable. With the potential to reduce waste, emissions, and ecological impacts, graphene-infused recycled concrete aggregates represent a significant step toward a more sustainable and greener construction sector.

Research Report:Performance of concrete containing pristine graphene-treated recycled concrete aggregates

Related Links
Flinders University
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

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