3D printed concrete may lead to a shift in architecture and construction. Because it can be used to produce new shapes and forms that current technologies struggle with, it may change the centuries-old processes and procedures that are still used to construct buildings, resulting in lower costs and saved time.
However, concrete has a significant environmental impact. Vast quantities of natural sand are currently used to meet the world’s insatiable appetite for concrete, at great cost to the environment. In general, the construction industry struggles with sustainability. It creates around 35% of all landfill waste globally.
Our new research suggests a way to curb this impact. We have trialled using recycled glass as a component of concrete for 3D printing.
Concrete is made of a mix of cement, water, and aggregates such as sand. We trialled replacing up to 100% of the aggregate in the mix with glass. Simply put, glass is produced from sand, is easy to recycle, and can be used to make concrete without any complex processing.
Demand from the construction industry could also help ensure glass is recycled. In 2018 in the US only a quarter of glass was recycled, with more than half going to landfill.
We used brown soda-lime beverage glass obtained from a local recycling company. The glass bottles were first crushed using a crushing machine and then the crushed pieces were washed, dried, milled, and sieved. The resulting particles were smaller than a millimetre square.
The crushed glass was then used to make concrete in the same way that sand would be. We used this concrete to 3D print wall elements and prefabricated building blocks that could be fitted together to make a whole building.
If used in this way, waste glass can find a new life as part of a construction material.
The presence of glass does not only solve the problem of waste but also contributes to the development of a concrete with superior properties than that containing natural sand.
The thermal conductivity of soda-lime glass – the most common type of glass, which you find in windows and bottles – is more than three times lower than that of quartz aggregate, which is used extensively in concrete. This means that concrete containing recycled glass has better insulation properties. They could substantially decrease the costs required for cooling or heating during summer or winter.
We also made other changes to the concrete mixture in order to make it more sustainable as a building material, including replacing some of the Portland cement with limestone powder.
Portland cement is a key component of concrete, used to bind the other ingredients together into a mix that will harden. However, the production of ordinary Portland cement leads to the release of significant amounts of carbon dioxide as well as other greenhouse gases. The cement production industry accounts for around 8% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the environment.
We also added lightweight fillers, made from tiny hollow thermoplastic spheres, to reduce the density of the concrete. This changed the thermal conductivity of the concrete, reducing it by up to 40% when compared with other concrete used for 3D printing. This further improved the insulation properties of the concrete, and reduced the amount of raw material required.
Using 3D printing technology, we can simply develop a wall structure on a computer, convert it to simple code and send it to a 3D printer to be constructed. 3D printers can operate for 24 hours a day, decrease the amount of waste produced, as well as increase the safety of construction workers.
Our research shows that an ultra-lightweight, well insulated 3D building is possible – something that could be a vital step on our mission towards net zero.
New figures from GlobalData show that the construction sector in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is healthier than in most other regions and is continuing to improve.
The MENA region has received an overall score of 0.87 in GlobalData’s January 2022 Construction Project Momentum Index, which provides an assessment of the health of the construction project pipeline at all stages of development from announcement through to completion.
Every construction project in GlobalData’s database is assigned a score of between 5 and -5 based on its current progress, a score that is continually updated over time. These are then weighted by the value of each project in order to arrive at overall scores for countries, regions and sectors.
That score puts the MENA region in third place out of 11 regions, and is an increase on its score from December 2021 (0.62) when it ranked in seventh place.
One reason for the region’s relatively good performance in the index is its energy and utilities sector, which scores 1.21, putting it in first place out of 11 regions worldwide.
The MENA region’s institutional sector, by contrast, has performed somewhat worse, with a score of 0.48 (putting it in ninth place globally).
Within the MENA region, construction projects are proceeding with fewest obstacles in Qatar, which scores 2.15 in the index. The situation in Oman, however, is somewhat less positive, with a score of -0.02.
The improving health of the construction pipeline in the MENA region is partly due to the resolution of issues in the region’s energy and utilities sector, which has seen its score in GlobalData’s Construction Project Momentum Index move from 0.51 in December 2021 to 1.21 in January 2022.
The construction sector is also seeing fewer and fewer problems in Qatar, which has seen its score on the index go from 1.07 in December 2021 to 2.15 in January 2022.
The Construction Project Momentum Index
GlobalData’s Construction Project Momentum Index is based on analysis of thousands of individual construction projects around the world.
Each project is continually monitored for updates, with updates indicating progress increasing the project’s score, while updates indicating delays or cancellations reduce the score. The score always sits between 5, the best possible score, and -5, the worst.
The scores for individual projects are then weighted based on their significance in order to create combined indices for each region or sector.
Events that can reduce a project’s score include the project being cancelled or put on hold, delays, the rejection of applications or tender bids, or the reduction of the project’s scope.
Events that can increase a project’s score in the index, by contrast, include the completion or commencement of construction, the awarding of major contracts, or the approval of applications.
Ben van der Merwe is a data journalist at GlobalData Media, specialising in FDI. He joined from the Reach Data Unit, where he was a fellow of the Google News Initiative. His investigative journalism has previously appeared in the Observer, VICE, Private Eye and New Statesman.
The top featured image is for illustration and is credit to InvestorMonitor
Hosting the World Cup is what many countries dream of, but hosting does not come without its drawbacks. It is a very costly event with no guarantees on economic return.
Any country that hosts the World Cup must meet strict infrastructure requirements, amongst many other standards required by all. These minimum requirements include criteria for all infrastructures, stadiums, hotels, transit, and communications and electrical grids. Despite all that is allowed by the accumulated petrodollars, fans could face accommodation shortages.
For that, Qatar will make a newly built and yet to be completed City in the Desert available for the event. Meanwhile, here is another aspect of the fothcoming tournament.
World Cup 2022: if Qatar can silence critics with a strong tournament, an Olympic bid could be next
The above image is for illustration and is of beIN SPORTS.
When FIFA picked Qatar as the first Middle Eastern country to host the men’s football World Cup in 2022, some considered it a bold gamble. Others thought it was a mistake – including former FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
Whether these issues will ultimately dissuade supporters from travelling to Qatar in late 2022 remains to be seen. The organisers will certainly not want a repeat of what happened when Qatar hosted the IAAF World Athletics Championships of 2019, which took place in half empty stadia.
Football has more global appeal than athletics, of course, and so far both Qatar and FIFA remain bullish that millions of fans will travel to the Gulf from all over the world. The event is certainly “unique” in sport event terms and that may drive fan interest. No expense has been spared by Qatar to deliver this unique experience, that is for sure. They have certainly spent big in the lead up to the tournament.
Even as early as 2010, estimates of the total cost for Qatar were in the region of US$65 billion (£48 billion) – a different level to the then record-breaking US$14 billion which Russia spent hosting the tournament in 2018. More recent reports, however, cite costs closer to US$300 billion.
The reason for such staggering sums is not just grandeur. The actual stadium costs, at around US$10 billion, are low in relation to the overall estimated total. The bulk of the money has been spent on infrastructure and transport projects in the country. Some of these were planned anyway, with the forthcoming tournament merely accelerating developments.
There is also a bigger picture at play here. In many ways, it has never been about the money for Qatar, one of the richest countries in the world.
The primary gains Qatar is seeking are non-commercial, with international relations at their heart, and and an opportunity to introduce itself to billions of people across the world. This has led to accusations of “sportswashing”. This can be defined as using sporting events as a way of seeking legitimacy or improving reputations and has been used in the context of Qatar 2022 given the controversies cited above.
Despite the negative press, Qatar will be encouraged by its latest foray into major international sporting events, including the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix in Formula One. The race was the first of a three-part Middle-East finale to the F1 season which also includes races in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. This could help place Qatar on a comparable level to its Arab neighbours in another very marketable sport.
Events like these, alongside the 2022 men’s World Cup, are designed to provide a legacy both socially and culturally – a legacy which creates national identity and places Qatar as a legitimate actor on the world stage.
Yet although money may be no object to the hosts, one organisation hoping to make some is FIFA. Their entire business model is geared around a successful World Cup. Russia 2018 helped FIFA to generate record revenues of US$6.4 billion, much of which is spent on “education and development”, and it will be hoping for similar takings from Qatar 2022. In the same way, FIFA’s (widely condemned) proposals to hold the tournament every two years are largely driven by the desire for more income.
So while the goals for Qatar and FIFA are different, both parties need the rest of the world to play ball. It’s worth bearing in mind that to make this happen, the majority of men’s domestic professional football leagues have altered their schedules to allow the 2022 competition to be staged, for the first time ever, in the months of November and December.
If the timing works, and Qatar’s non-commercial plans are achieved, it will then surely aim to become a regular major player in the sports event hosting market – so expect to see a bid to host a future Olympic Games. Money again here will be no object. Qatar will no doubt put on a show for the World Cup. A show that it hopes the rest of the world will be watching.
People-powered resilience: Andalusia announces new climate action plan as per Climate-KIC should be considered a leader by example, be extended and therefore generalised to the neighbouring regions, i.e. the MENA countries. Mainly for better consequent outcome, if only, in the concerned region in this article.
Andalusia is the southernmost region of Spain. Covering 800 kilometres of coastline, it’s a region famed for its sunshine, beaches, rugged mountains, tourism and agricultural history.
Andalusia is less-known for its ambition to be a world leader in resilience and adaptation; a goal partly borne from necessity because, due to its geographical and climatic conditions, Andalusia is witnessing the worsening impacts of climate change on its territory.
The region is experiencing an increasing number of droughts and wildfires, and oppressive heatwaves during the summer months. In September, the region was hit with destructive flooding, with over 11cm of rain falling in Huelva in just one hour.
Mitigation and adaptation to climate change have consequently been priorities for the Andalusian Government, and on October 13th the Governing Council approved the Andalusian Climate Action Plan 2030 (PAAC 2030), making Andalusia the first Spanish community to approve plans in line with the new state law on climate change.
Risks and forging resilience
The Forging Resilience in Andalusia project, or Forjando Resiliencia en Andalucía, is co-financed by EIT Climate-KIC and part of the Deep Demonstration Resilient Regions programme. The programme contributed to the PAAC 2030 process by developing sectoral and multisectoral workshops in 2020 which collectively assessed the different climate risks in Andalusia, and co-designed a portfolio of actions for resilience and adaptation.
Identifying the dangers, impacts and vulnerabilities of climate change impacts on areas, and prioritising specific risks that need to be addressed in different regional environments, is a critical part of building resilience and will ultimately enable local and regional communities to better manage shocks and stresses caused by climate change.
The results of the sectoral workshops were analysed, and a series of preliminary conclusions were drawn up, with the main vulnerabilities identified based on the demand and availability of water. Extraction of water from aquifers, extraction wells, water reserves and lack of water were all highlighted in the PAAC chapter focusing on adaptation, which drew on the conclusions of the workshop. Other risks mentioned included intense rainfall, increasing sea levels and subsequent erosion, and extreme weather events like floods and heat waves, plus the knock-on potential social impacts of all these events, like unemployment or depopulation.
“But with vulnerabilities differing right down to the provincial level, the local aspect cannot be overlooked”, said Maria Lopez Sanchís from General Directorate of Environmental Quality and Climate Change, Junta de Andalucia.
“Our process also identified hazards and impacts taking into account territorial differences,” said Lopez Sanchís. “This will be more relevant in the different operational programmes of the PAAC, because the plan urges different areas to incorporate the territorial perspective in the risk assessments and definition of adaptation measures whenever possible. To build true resilience, we have to deeply consider geographical differences and the specific characteristics that determine the vulnerability of each territory’s exposure to climate hazards. Then we need to place special emphasis on the most vulnerable spaces.”
People power towards a better scenario
The role of the workshops however wasn’t only to analyse the current risks, but also to look forward to how an ideal scenario for Andalusia could look. This meant identifying the levers of change that need to be engaged for that to be achieved and drawing up a roadmap of innovation options and portfolio priorities.
“As well as analysing the current situation, we also carried out an exercise to determine the ideal climate change scenario,” said Lopez Sanchís. “We want to look to the future and identify the levers of change that will allow us to define the means by which we can achieve a more resilient Andalusia,” she said. Lopez Sanchís added that a number of the levers identified to help Andalusia reach this goal are included in the PAAC report, including ecosystem management and land-use planning, but also people-powered interventions like education and behavioural change.
“In building this vision, citizen engagement is critical,” said Lopez Sanchís. “Through our different online workshops, we carried out a process of public participation aligned with the consultation and public exposure phase of the Andalusian Climate Action Plan.”
Both formal and informal education, as well as behavioural change, and political, social, cultural and ecological decisions are all addressed in the new climate plan, as is the promotion of sustainable lifestyles, which means rethinking our ways of life, how we buy and what we consume.
“The people piece is recognised as one of the required ‘adaptation dimensions’ in order to achieve the adaptation objectives set by the PAAC,” said Lopez Sanchís. “To meet the challenge of climate change, and to build resilience and adapt, yes, we need to recognise and analyse the threats, but then we also need to take whole communities with us as we develop a roadmap of innovation that will enable us to survive and thrive. Only people can make the PAAC happen.”
EIT Climate-KIC is proud to be a partner of the UN High Level Champion’s Race to Resilience campaign, which is working to step-up global ambition for climate resilience in the run-up to COP26 and beyond.
COP26: Global index for measuring resilience to climate risk launched
Jyoti Mukul | New Delhi Last Updated at November 9, 2021.
GRII could enable asset owners to compare portfolio risks across geographies and hazards, as well as helping countries to prioritise national adaptation investments.
Ten global organisations with partial funding and in-kind contributions from the insurance sector and partner institutions have launched a Global Resilience Index Initiative (GRII) at COP26.
GRII will provide a globally consistent model for the assessment of resilience across all sectors and geographies. The GRII will be using cross-sector risk modelling experience, including public-private partnerships between governments, academia, insurance and engineering.
Mark Carney, UN special envoy on climate action and finance, Mami Mizutori, assistant secretary-general and special representative of the secretary general for disaster risk reduction in the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and Eric Andersen, president, Aon, are the patrons for the.
Among the organisations that have come together to launch GRII are United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), Insurance Development Forum (IDF), University of Oxford, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment (CCRI) and UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment (CGFI) and British risk and insurance advisory company Willis Towers Watson.
According to Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency and CGFI advisory board, the heatwave in Vancouver, the floods in Germany, the polar vortex in Texas and the drought in Madagascar over the last one year had shown the horrifying human costs of climate change. “By making our systems and economies more resilient to climate disruption we can save millions of lives and livelihoods. To inject pace into this vital agenda we need adaptation and resilience to be clearly understood by governments, businesses and communities. The Global Resilience Index Initiative helps deliver that,” said Boyd.
GRII will be a curated, open-source resource offering high level metrics across the built environment, infrastructure, agriculture and societal exposures with many potential applications in aggregated risk management worldwide, said a press statement. “The mission of the GRII is to address the data emergency that is contributing to the climate crisis by helping sectors across the global economy quantify the value of building climate resilience and the costs of doing nothing,” it said.
GRII could enable asset owners to compare portfolio risks across geographies and hazards, as well as helping countries to prioritise national adaptation investments.
The coalition behind the GRII is seeking to achieve two initial goals offer global open reference risk data using metrics built on insurance risk modelling principles; provide shared standards and facilities applicable to a wide range of uses, including corporate climate risk disclosure, national adaptation planning and reporting, and the planning of pre-arranged humanitarian finance.
According to Carney, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance, GRII can play an important role by creating a shared understanding of mounting physical climate risks. “In turn, this will help close the insurance protection gap and direct investment and aid to where they are needed the most,” he said.
Mizutori said GRII has the potential to support all sectors in the management of adaptation and resilience, but action and support is required from the private and public sectors to further globalise the initiative. “The next steps are to ensure that countries are able to make full use of the GRII’s potential, particularly at the strategic risk assessment stage, and support governments in making critical climate investment decisions,” he said.
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