Across the globe, concrete is known to be the most extensively manufactured material. It is also one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, making up a minimum of 8% of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.
Maria Konsta-Gdoutos, a University of Texas at Arlington civil engineering professor and Associate Director of the Center for Advanced Construction Materials (CACM), is heading an international measure to decarbonize concrete production and encourage its usage as a renewable energy generator.
We will pioneer TE-CO2NCRETE, a thermoelectric carbon-neutral concrete, that will exhibit a high carbon dioxide uptake potential and storage capacity.
Maria Konsta-Gdoutos, Professor, Civil Engineering, University of Texas at Arlington
Konsta-Gdoutos added, “Engineering the nanostructure of concrete also will allow the material to capture thermal energy from the surroundings and convert it into usable electrical energy, leading to the development of a novel technology for renewable electricity and higher efficiency power source.”
A $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant financially supports this measure, including another US university and five European institutions.
The US collaborator is the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Concrete Sustainability and Resilience Center, which is familiar with experimental research on design, multiscale characterization, and implementation of supportable multifunctional concrete that makes use of graphene-based nanomaterials and carbon-based waste byproducts.
International collaborators include the French National Center for Scientific Research, an expert on atomistic simulation methods that seem beneficial in renewable energy research; the Technical Universities in Dresden and Berlin, Germany; and the Politecnico di Torino in Torino, Italy.
Other stakeholders are the Portland Cement Association, a chief research and market organization acting as cement manufacturers, and the American Concrete Institute. However, both are actively occupied with expediting and progressing solutions to attain carbon neutrality, stated Konsta-Gdoutos.
The collaboration aims to accelerate the pace set by the Paris Agreement, which calls for a 52% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, by developing technological expertise for net zero carbon concrete worldwide.
Konsta-Gdoutos stated all collaborators are authorities in energy-autonomous building materials and carbonated construction materials and are fitted to tackle several parts of the project. Furthermore, CACM’s laboratories consist of a sub-10-nm imaging or mapping NanoIR AFM spectrometer; this is the only one at a university in the United States.
Melanie Sattler, professor and interim chair of the Department of Civil Engineering, stated that international collaboration links research to the workforce.
The partnership’s readiness to scale up and establish long-lasting bonds of international research are extensive. I could see industry stakeholders and national and international agencies become meaningful partners of the workforce connection.
Melanie Sattler, Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Texas at Arlington