Engineers at RMIT University in Australia have devised a method to boost the strength of concrete by 30% using waste coffee grounds. How so? They turn the grounds into biochar by utilizing a low-energy process without oxygen at 350° C, making it a viable alternative to the sand that was used to make concrete.
Around 50 billion tons of natural sand are used in construction projects worldwide each year and the ongoing extraction from river beds have a big impact on the environment. By taking a circular-economy approach, we could keep organic waste like coffee grounds out of landfills while also better preserving natural resources. The team is currently working on implementation strategies and eventually field trials.
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Photo credit: Carelle Mulawa-Richards, RMIT University
The inspiration for our work was to find an innovative way of using the large amounts of coffee waste in construction projects rather than going to landfills – to give coffee a ‘double shot’ at life. Several councils that are battling with the disposal of organic waste have shown interest in our work. They have already engaged us for their upcoming infrastructure projects incorporating pyrolysed forms of different organic wastes,” said Roychand, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at RMIT.