Sugarcane potential substitute for sand in concrete

Researchers from Brazil?s University of Sao Carlos have announced some positive findings on the use of sugarcane bagasse for the production of concrete.

The basis of the potential construction material would be to substitute sand with ash from burning bagasse in two stages:
1. To sift through the matter to remove sugarcane that was not burned.
2. To undertake a process of grinding so that the grains are a comparable size to sand used in the manufacture of concrete.

According to researchers, a mixture of sand and between 30 and 50 per cent of bagasse makes concrete 17 per cent stronger than compared to the current standard in Brazil, due to the high crystalline and silica content.

?The advantage is due to the compressed properties of the bagasse ash which, because it is more uniform, fills better than natural sand,? said head researcher Almir Sales.

The researchers believe the bagasse has the potential to make a huge impact on the supply of cement in Brazil and on the environment, particularly as the removal of sand from riverbeds continues to be criticised from a sustainability perspective.

Sales estimates already indicate that the bagasse concrete could be sold at between 10 and 12 per cent cheaper than standard products, due to the low cost of ash from sugarcane and the declining availability of concrete in its current form. Furthermore, Brazil has a well established and growing sugarcane ethanol industry that already benefits from the processing of sugarcane waste for alternative energy purposes.

The researchers have said that the preliminary results of testing of the durability of concrete using sugarcane bagasse has been very encouraging and following further laboratory trials, they will begin a series of various environmental impact testing procedures which are expected to be completed by May 2011.

Sources: Aggregate Research, Brazzil Magazine

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