Fresh beet and carrots on wooden background Adobe Stock

A new European Union–funded project called B-Smart is looking for a way to make the construction industry more environmentally friendly. Engineers from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom are investigating to see if the fibers, or more specifically the nanoplatelets, found in root vegetables, like carrots and beets, could help make concrete mixtures stronger and more eco-friendly. reports initial tests show that adding the fibers from the vegetables greatly enhances the mechanical properties.

Standard concrete is made with water, aggregate (gravel, rock or sand), and Portland cement. Cement is the binding agent that hardens and strengthens the concrete. But when the nanosized platelets of root vegetables are added to the standard concrete mix, the amount of calcium silicate hydrate – the product responsible for making concrete strong – is increased.

The researchers found that adding the nanoplatelets made the concrete so much stronger that 40 kg less Portland cement was needed per cubic metre of concrete. This decrease corresponds to 40 kg less CO2 for the same volume of concrete. A stronger root vegetable mixture consequently means that less concrete would need to be used in buildings, resulting in significant environmental benefits.

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