Playing with coffee unlocks improvement for industrial concrete

(Photo by JB on Flickr • Attribution CC BY 2.0)

When scientists get to play in the lab

“What if we take these used coffee grounds and pyrolyze them?”
… moments later …
“We found a way of strengthening concrete with coffee grounds!”

Achieving concrete that is 30% stronger is within our grasp by incorporating charred coffee grounds into the mix, as discovered by scientists in Australia.

Science Alert explains:

Organic products like coffee grounds can’t be added directly to concrete because they leak chemicals that weaken the building material’s strength. So using low energy levels the team heated coffee waste to over 350°C (around 660° F) while depriving it of oxygen.

This process is called pyrolyzing. It breaks down the organic molecules, resulting in a porous, carbon-rich charcoal called biochar, that can form bonds with and thereby incorporate itself into the cement matrix.

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