What is Concrete?

con·crete_ [kon-kreet], noun

an artificial, stone like material used for various structural purposes, made by mixing cement and various aggregates, as sand, pebbles, gravel, or shale, with water and allowing the mixture to harden.
That is what the dictionary defines concrete as. But what if we could question what it is as a product, or more specifically, what concrete is made out of. Today, the cement industry is one of the most polluting industries there is, contributing 5-8% of the world’s greenhouse gases. Plus, concrete is the highest used building material in the world. So if we could reduce the carbon footprint of this major material, then we would help the environment in a huge way.
Currently, portland cement is one of the main components of making concrete. It is also very harmful to the environment to make. What if we eliminated this product all together, and substituted a product that was more useful in the circumstance. Well, researchers have developed a way to take something very harmful, and use it to make a newer, more intuitive concrete product. This product I am talking about is made out of waste products from coal plants–concrete that could both last for hundreds of years and reduce carbon emissions by 90%. The waste is called fly-ash, and it is one of the most abundant waste products on the planet.

Fly-Ash Block of Concrete

It is known that there are about 600 ash refuse dump sites around the US, and if that was made into concrete, so many good environmental impacts could come from this. Instead of using new material, let’s reuse what we have already discarded as waste and develop that into a new product that is safer, and more environmentally friendly.

Coal Ash Dump Site


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