Regular concrete requires virgin sand, the supply of which is diminishing. The traditional process also emits carbon dioxide, a well-known greenhouse gas.
An interdisciplinary team of research scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder has discovered a new way of making concrete from living cyanobacteria, which is in a class of photosynthetic microbes. The photosynthesis process absorbs carbon dioxide. Add dirty sand, or ground up glass, other plentiful materials along with ordinary gelatin, pour into a mold, and presto one obtains a concrete-like substance. It is green when wet despite the non-lime gelatin flavor. When dry and strong it can be cut with a diamond-tipped saw. Originally, the process did not involve gelatin and was too slow for the researchers. Hence, the introduction of a food they all grew up with.
The amazing thing is that the material can reproduce. The bacteria remain alive for several weeks, and become active when exposed to high temperature and humidity. Cut a block in half, place it in a warm container with more raw materials but no additional microbes, pour into a mold, and create more concrete. Each block can spawn three new generations of blocks, obtaining eight descendants.
A concrete expert at a university in Scotland is excited about the prospect of this new way of making concrete.
This ability to reproduce and flexibility in raw materials is seen as a huge advantage for construction in remote areas. Concrete homes on Mars some day?
I just discovered that something went awry and this is not being published on its usual Saturday.