Adding graphene powder to concrete can make the material stronger, according to studies by Adrian Nixon, the editor of the Nixene Journal. Graphene also is an ideal material for roads that contain sensors, which can be deployed for smart and sustainable cities, writes James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester.
Innovation in advanced materials offers the disruptive potential to transform the way we build our future cities – and make them greener and smarter.
Construction is associated with the so-called Foundation Industries – which span the cement glass, ceramics, metals, paper and bulk chemicals sectors – which in total produce 28 million tonnes of materials per year and account for up to 10 per cent of the UK’s total CO₂ emissions.
If we consider the Climate Change Act (2008) and the UK government’s call to reduce carbon emissions to 80 per cent below the levels that were seen in 1990 by 2050 then clearly this sector is an obvious focus for a new approach. Innovation in new materials will greatly help city planners, developers and builders to construct a zero-carbon world from the foundations up.
Reducing Concrete Emissions
An obvious candidate is putting graphene in concrete. According to Chatham House, the international affairs institute, the global production of cement – the ‘glue’ that holds concrete together – accounts for a staggering eight per cent of the world’s CO₂ production.
Recent experiments with graphene enhanced concrete have been really promising. My colleague Adrian Nixon, the editor of the Nixene Journal (an independent publication dedicated to graphene and 2D materials science news), has conducted a review of the various studies on adding tiny amounts of graphene and graphene oxide to concrete. Adrian’s review revealed that the addition of just 0.03 per cent graphene powder increased the strength of concrete by a conservative average of 25 per cent.
Graphene is an extremely electrically conductive form of elemental carbon that is composed of a single flat sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a repeating hexagonal lattice.