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Green Building with Sugarcrete: A Sweet Solution for Carbon Reduction

Green Building with Sugarcrete: A Sweet Solution for Carbon Reduction


Sugar is something that almost every family has in their house, and it is widely used in many dishes, especially in bakeries; however, their impacts don’t only raise questions in the health aspects but also in the environment, what impact does it have? And more importantly, can we reduce the impact?


The sugar comes from sugar cane, but “Around 270 kg of sugarcane leaves are generated upon harvesting one tonne of sugarcane” (Munagala M., Yogendra S., 2020), what do we do with the rest? well, many people have used it in energy production for the sugar mill using co-generation, but most of the time, they don’t use all the baggage(30% of the sugar waste) can it have other uses?


The answer is yes, thanks to the people of the University of East London(UEL) in collaboration with the Sustainability Research Institute(SRI) they have created Sugarcrete to not only be able to use the waste of sugar but also give a more sustainable solution or the concrete, why do we need it?


The concrete industry is, in the words of Jonathan Watts, “the third largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world with up to 2.8bn tonnes” (Watts, 2020), and we use it for almost everything, every infrastructure, from hospitals and education to residences and departments.


So, how is Sugarcrete a solution, is it reliable? As we talk before is made of sugarcane baggage and a mineral composite that makes it very resistant, according to UEL, this new material has “high-quality mechanical, acoustic, fire and thermal properties, and has been tested to industry standards for fire resistance (ISO 1716:2021), compressive strength (ASTM C39), thermal conductivity (Hot-Box method) and durability (BS EN 927-6)” and it is designed so it uses less steel, and with its unique form and variability of densities in the modules allow it to endure harass environments like earthquakes. It is also lighter, cheaper to produce, and environmentally friendly, with 20 times fewer emissions of CO2 compared to traditional concrete.


For this, they won many awards like the “Earthshot Prize: Longlisted under the category of build a waste-free world 2023,”  and they are still in an ongoing project called “OTT Silvertown: Co-design workshops for a local community space using Sugarcrete® in Silvertown, London.” (UEL, Sugarcrete), what do you think? Is this a great solution? Is there a possibility that our houses will be built this way in the future? the future looks promising.


Sources:

Munagala, M., & Shastri, Y. (2020). Sustainable valorization of sugar industry waste: Status, opportunities, and challenges. Bioresource Technology, 303, 122929. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biortech.2020.122929 

Sugarcrete. (n.d.). University of East London. https://uel.ac.uk/sugarcrete 

Watts, J. (2022, October 19). Concrete: the most destructive material on Earth. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/feb/25/concrete-the-most-destructive-material-on-earth 

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