Adobe Stock / Kange Studio

Scientists from Estonia’s University of Tartu and the Estonian University of Life Sciences have been developing a 3D-printable material to possibly be used to build future homes. The concrete-style material is created from milled peat, oil shale ash, and silica nanoparticles. Digital Trends' Luke Dormehl reports this advancement in 3D home printing could reduce construction costs by around 10 times. The research team estimates a house shell with a 490-square-foot surface area could be printed for $5,850.

“Peat has excellent antibacterial and thermal properties, and is inexpensive and widely available in many regions in the world,” Jüri Liiv, a Ph.D. researcher with the Estonian Peat Research Center, told Digital Trends. “[However, it has not been] used as a component of concrete-organic materials because of its properties retarding the concrete hardening. Humates present in peat prevent the forming [of] the silicate composite structure and react with pozzolanic minerals, thus preventing forming [a] mechanically durable material. During our last project, the issue was successfully solved, and now we are able to form a durable peat-based composite with very high thermal and mechanical properties.”

The composite material the team has developed is both strong and possesses good thermal conductivity. Despite the fact that peat is used as fuel, the material is also (crucially) not combustible. It hardens within one day of being printed, although it remains elastic for longer than this — making it possible to close any air gaps.

Read More