Mitigating climate change is one of the biggest challenges of world’s population. Worcester Polytechnic Institute scientists have developed a new material that’s a low-cost, high-impact sustainable solution. It will address one of the largest contributors to climate change which is concrete.
Between 1995 and 2020 worldwide cement production jumped from 1.39 billion to 4.1 billion tons. This made it the second most widely used substance on Earth next to water.
The study has been published in the journal Matter. Scientists created a self-healing Enzymatic Construction Material.
Biological enzymes are catalysts that drive chemical reactions. The material uses an enzyme that is found in all living cells. It is known as carbonic anhydrase. ECM is made through a process involving an enzyme reaction that creates calcium carbonate crystals.
It serves as the material’s main ingredient. A sand slurry is also added to the material. This holds the material together during its early stages. It is like scaffolding does during the construction of a building. The material can also heal itself if cracks develop from wear and tear over time.
It can retain its strength through as many as six self-healing cycles. Scientists created a new type of self-healing concrete. The new negative emission construction material takes it a step further. It leaves concrete behind to create an entirely new substance that is made from carbon dioxide. CO2 goes into the material during its production. The material also consumes CO2 during the self-healing process.