In Japan, concrete construction is seeing new improvements through an unlikely source: volcanic ash. With sand becoming more and more scarce, a couple of universities and firms have realized the potential of utilizing ash to create greener concrete.
This choice is not only environmentally friendly, but it’s also economically beneficial. Who knows – the next time you’re looking for concrete form rentals or concrete shoring, you might be using this new technology! Read on to find out Japan is utilizing volcanic ash to create a greener concrete.
How the Idea Came to Life
Japanese firm Atelier Tekuto was approached by chemists about creating an environmentally friendly piece of architecture. The firm accepted this challenge and opted for using a 100% renewable materiel for the concrete.
Atelier Tekuto joined with researchers from the University of Tokyo to create this sustainable, economical, and environmentally friendly concrete. After months of testing, the groups realized they could use nearby volcanic ash from Japan’s Kyushu island. The southern part of this island has volcanic activity that occurs almost every year. After perfecting this materiel through quality tests, the firm received government approval to make their first buildings with the concrete resource.
This idea was not actually original as it was based off Roman techniques. Engineers from the Roman Era are known to have used ash from what’s called a pyroclastic flow. A pyroclastic flow is a natural resource caused by volcanic activity that can be manipulated and used as a replacement material.
With modern technology, the Japanese firm adapted the Roman’s practices by making this concrete compliant to construction building standards. The material is also made from local Japanese volcanic regions, another key difference compared to the Romans.
Sand Versus Shirasu
The main ingredient difference in this concrete compound is the use of the volcanic ash, also known as ‘shirasu’. Sand is currently a limited and scare resource in Japan, so researchers were ecstatic to find out about the abundance of shirasu in the region. Sand is so limited that the government is very close to banning the use of sea sand in the construction industry. It was a great day of discovery for the researchers to realize that Shirasu is industrious and provides its own benefits in architecture.
Besides being environmentally friendly, the materiel is high in density and absorption capacity. These attributes make it just as durable as concrete. It’s natural pozzolanic reaction makes it very similar to the elements of cement. Shirasu’s durability actually increases over time because of this reaction. Other benefits include humidity control and deodorizing powers in the concrete.
Future of Green Concrete
Whether the industry shifts towards cyanobacteria living buildings or the use of volcanic ash, experts are being open about how they’re using new techniques to create these sustainable forms of concrete.
Atelier Tekuto was quick to make their concrete easy to reproduce. They shared all their secrets with Regional Material Utilization Network, hoping to empower construction companies around the world, at least for empowering those who operate near volcanic regions in their nations.
For now, the firm is doing what they can to help companies across Japan get on board with this technology by making it easily accessible. This project has provided a breakthrough for the construction industry and for the world, and it will surely be implemented in other places in no time.
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