Kansas State University civil engineers using 2G ethanol byproducts to make green concrete

March 16, 2020 |

In Kansas, Kansas State University civil engineers are developing the right mix to reduce concrete’s carbon footprint and make it stronger. Their innovative ingredient: biofuel byproducts.

The researchers are specifically looking at byproducts from production of cellulosic ethanol, which is biofuel produced from inedible material such as wood chips, wheat straw or other agricultural residue. Cellulosic ethanol is different from traditional bioethanol, which uses corn and grain to make biofuel. Corn ethanol’s byproduct — called distiller’s dried grains — can be used as cattle feed, but cellulosic ethanol’s byproduct — called high-lignin residue — is often perceived as less valuable.

When the researchers added the high-lignin ash byproduct to cement, the ash reacted chemically with the cement to make it stronger. The researchers tested the finished concrete material and found that replacing 20 percent of the cement with cellulosic material after burning increased the strength of the concrete by 32 percent.

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Category: Research

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