As steel-reinforced concrete is the most common building material in the world, aquatic bound sand – as an aggregate in the concrete mix – becomes a more and more finite resource of our planet. Today we know, that we do not have the necessary resources to build the emerging mega cities in the global South the same way we did in the Northern hemisphere. At the Alternative Sand Lab at FCL Singapore, research is under way to think of alternative approaches to address the scarcity.
Worldwide, more and more drastic forms of sand mining are documented. Beaches in North Africa are being depleted illegally, rivers are being dredged and ocean floors scraped, which leads to sliding landmasses and the disappearance of whole islands. The consequences reach far beyond the actual mining area and leave devastating traces. The sand shortage leads to increasing illegal quarrying and trade in developing countries.
The Alternative Sand Lab aims to reduce our dependency from the finite resource sand – in particular in the construction sector. The demand for sand can be reduced through recycling, substitution and synthesis. Recycling of natural resources is a promising pillar. Used glass can be ground and recycled into sand with similar material qualities as the original resource. Substitution is a radical attempt to reduce sand dependency one step further. The Alternative Sand Lab experiments with bio-cementation, construction waste and building debris. The Alternative Sand Lab further investigates into synthetic materials derived from alternative sources, recycled building materials and other waste particles.
Extensive chemical, physical and material tests are necessary to establish a standard for further research. Experimental test reach close to the compressive strength of concrete. The range of applications of alternative sand materials are vast and can be engineered to meet specific criteria such as weight, strength, durability and applicatibility construction and various other industries.
The E4D Summer School 2016 organised by the Chair in collaboration with ETH Global will be held at TU Delft. More information can be found here.