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Root Vegetable Fibers Derived Nano-Platelets Strengthen Concrete

Researchers from Britain’s Lancaster University reported that use of less-expensive nano platelets derived from carrot and beet root fibers have ability to enhance concrete performance

The study led by Prof. Mohamed Saafi explains that cellulose-based platelets are nano sheets synthesized from carrot and sugar beet root, which were obtained as waste products from the food industry. These nano platelets are added to conventional concrete mix (cement, aggregate, and water) to increase the amount of calcium silicate hydrate, which is responsible for the strength of concrete, as it the main product of the hydration in widely-used Portland cement.

As a part of study, the experiment was conducted in lab, which helped platelets made concrete significantly stronger, to the point that 40 kg (88 lb) less Portland cement per cubic meter of concrete was required in order to achieve the same strength as would otherwise have been possible. This means that less concrete would need to be used in any given structure, which is important to the environment, as cement production is a large source of manmade carbon dioxide emissions. Addition of the platelets was found to boost the density of the concrete’s microstructure, which allows structures to last longer by being more resistant to corrosion.

Furthermore, scientists are working on developing thin nano platelet-based sheets, which would be applied to the outside of existing structures made from conventional concrete. The sheets could increase the lifespan of those structures, by providing additional strength. “The composites are not only superior to current cement products in terms of mechanical and microstructure properties, but also use smaller amounts of cement,” said Saafi. “This significantly reduces both the energy consumption and CO2 emissions associated with cement manufacturing.”