Mar 23, 2017 | By Tess

Though I’m no expert on cement, a recent development coming out of the UAE has me quite excited about the common building material. Renca, a startup enrolled in Dubai’s Future Accelerators program, has announced the creation of a “green” cement compound that is made from industrial waste and which only uses a fraction of the amount of energy needed to produce traditional Portland cement. The best part? The new material is primed for use in construction 3D printing.

Started by Russian businessman Andrey Dudnikov and Italian geologist Alex Reggiani, Renca has been working in partnership with the Dubai Municipality to create a 3D printable construction material that can be used to manufacture buildings in the Middle Eastern city. What they came up with is a geopolymer cement made from industrial by-products, making it about 10 times more eco-friendly (in terms of energy consumption) than tradition cement.

Renca co-founder Andrey Dudnikov

According to the startup’s founders, they met at a Geopolymer Institute conference in France last year, and have since been combining their respective expertise to develop the innovative 3D printable concrete material. In addition to working with the Dubai Municipality, Renca has also collaborated with companies such as Apis Cor (known for its mobile construction 3D printing), as well as the Singapore Centre for 3D Printing at the Nanyang Technological University.

As they explain it, the geopolymer cement is made from industrial by-products, which include pulverized fly ash (a powder produced from the burning of pulverized coal), and granulated blast slag (a by-product of iron and steel manufacturing). Not only are these materials sourced from waste, but they also offer better thermal insulation properties than traditional concrete, making the new concrete material more resistant to heat and thus better suited for hot environments.

"For 3D printers you have to adjust the properties of concrete,” explained Dudnikov. “It should be fluid enough for the 3D printer and it should set very quickly. When the first layer is in place, the second layer will come straight after. To achieve this with normal concrete you have to add a lot of additives, so it becomes expensive. With geopolymer concrete, you can adjust the properties of the cement with the amount of raw materials you add. It’s easy to regulate, achieves fast settings and it is easy to use in these [hot] temperatures.”

Dudnikov also said that his company plans to begin discussions with local potential investors in the coming weeks. Considering how proactive Dubai has been regarding 3D printed construction technologies (having announced that 25% of its buildings will be 3D printed by 2030), it seems like the ideal environment for Renca and its concrete material. “We want to take part in this and our technology can provide a lot of benefits,” added Dudnikov.

(Images: Pawan Singh/The National)

The global green cement product market is expected to grow to about $38.1 billion by 2024, according to a report by Transparency Market Research. With the growing effort to move towards more effective and sustainable building materials, and with companies wanting to achieve Leed or Estidama ratings, green concrete has become increasingly popular.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Materials

 

 

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