Concrete is vital for urban growth. Demand for concrete has soared to 50 billion tons annually.
However, our dependence on concrete, the second most used material after water, is causing an environmental crisis. We are running out of sand…thanks to our high demand for concrete.
A recent breakthrough may solve the impending “sand crisis”
Rice University researchers discovered that graphene derived from metallurgical coke, a coal-based product, could replace sand in concrete, enhancing its strength and durability.
This innovative substitution not only conserves sand but also makes concrete lighter and tougher. Despite graphene’s ultrathin composition, it boasts remarkable strength, making it a promising addition to concrete. Unlike previous approaches that merely incorporated graphene, this study aims to entirely replace sand, showcasing the material’s multifaceted potential in construction.
For years, Rice University’s laboratory has been producing graphene using their proprietary method known as flash Joule heating. This process involves rapidly superheating a carbon-rich substrate with an electric pulse, transforming it into graphene flakes. In this instance, the lab utilized its distinctive Joule-heating approach to craft graphene from metallurgical coke, a derivative of coal commonly used as a fuel source.