Green Innovations

Developing renewable and clean technology companies in New York

Friday, January 8, 2010

Clarkson University research produces breakthrough in "green" concrete

When a new 56,000-square-foot student center opens its doors in 2010 at Clarkson University, it will put its expertise in civil engineering and environmental engineering to work -- using locally produced "green" concrete blocks that are more economical, energy-efficient, stronger, more durable and environmentally friendly than traditional ones, as the "building blocks" for the new facility.

Clarkson research created the breakthrough, which replaces 20 percent of the primary − and most expensive − ingredient in concrete, Portland cement, with recycled industrial glass powder. Sparking the development of the “green” blocks was a challenge faced by Potters Industries, a major international manufacturer of engineered beads made entirely from recycled glass. Its local plant was generating 8,000 tons of excess fine powder a year and the company was seeking an efficient use for this byproduct. Clarkson Professor Narayanan Neithalath, an expert on cement-based materials and sustainable concretes and an affiliate of Clarkson’s Center for Advanced Materials Processing(CAMP), helped devise a solution, working with Woodruff Block, a manufacturer in Potsdam, NY. The company produced 7,500 blocks for the student center using Neithalath’s innovative formulation.

Concrete is the world’s most widely used man-made material. Some 12 billion metric tons are churned out each year (a cubic meter for every person on the planet) as infrastructure for roads, bridges and buildings. About 75 percent of it is made with Portland cement, a limestone-based binder whose production significantly depletes natural resources and is a major source of carbon dioxide emissions.

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