Researchers at Rice University have recently published work that makes greener concrete a reality, thanks to nanoscale techniques that brings more order to the semicrystalline particles of cement, the binding agent in concrete. According to a report from Rice, the new findings could lead to stronger structures that require less concrete.
The new process eliminates the normal disordered clumps in concrete's particles and turns them into more organized cubes, spheres, and other forms that reduce porosity and increase strength. Beyond the structural possibilities, the findings are significant since worldwide production of concrete each year is responsible for as much as ten percent of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
The technique of controlling the morphology and size of these particles is similar to the self-assembly of metallic crystals and polymers. For more information, see the report from Rice University and the researchers' published work.