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Celluloses from carrots are being studied as part of a research to contribute to a much stronger and environmentally friendly concrete. A group of researchers at Britain’s Lancaster University used nanoparticles from root vegetables like carrots to produce stronger concrete. They found that the strength of the concrete increased by 80% by using smaller amounts of carrot extract.

Lancaster University researchers perform stress test of carrot-based concrete
Figure-1: Lancaster University researchers perform stress test of carrot-based concrete
Image Courtesy: REUTERS/Jim Drury

The nanoplatelets that are sourced from the fibers of carrots help concrete gain strength at a lower cost. The European Union’s Horizon 2020 initiated a fund of £195,000 for Lancaster University to proceed with further research work.

This article delves into this new technology of carrot nanoparticles in developing an economical and green concrete for the future.

Carrot Cellulose for Concrete

The study was conducted using carrot particles provided by a Scotland-based company, CelluComp, which works on developing sustainable materials.

Carrot Mixture Used as an Ingredient in Concrete
Figure-2: Carrot Mixture Used as an Ingredient in Concrete
Image Courtesy: Reuters/Jim Drury

Water is present in abundance in carrots, but it is rigid and crunchy due to the presence of cellulose in it. Cellulose is a fibrous substance that is found in all plants. These fibers are building blocks of a vegetable. Cellulose is also found in wood but due to the difficulty in extraction, vegetables are preferred for this purpose.

These celluloses are stated as nanoplatelets or fibers of carrots which when added in smaller amounts change the way water behaves during the cement hydration process. The physical fiber does not create direct strength. It is the way it holds onto water and reacts with the cement that imparts strength to the concrete.

Novel Cement Composites from Carrots

The novel cement nanocomposites are obtained by combining ordinary Portland cement with the nanoplatelets. A smaller amount of these composites alter the microstructure and change the mechanical properties of the concrete. This significantly reduces energy consumption and carbon-dioxide emission during the manufacturing of cement.

Lancaster University engineers state that they use 40 kg less ordinary portland cement per cubic meter of concrete. The preliminary results showed that half a kilogram of carrot nanomaterial reduced 10 kilograms of cement per one cubic meter of concrete.

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Advantages of Using Carrot Nanomaterials in Cement

  1. Ordinary concrete is made of Portland cement, water, and aggregates. The former component is responsible for the carbon emissions during its manufacturing as well as during concrete production.
  2. Compared to traditional concrete, this technology facilitates the use of lesser cement material to obtain stronger concrete for a building. The consumption of a lesser quantity of concrete reduces the amount of cement used. This significantly reduces carbon dioxide emission and energy consumption during the production of cement.
  3. The nanoplatelets of carrots create a concrete with a dense microstructure. This reduces the number of cracks that appear in the concrete. A denser microstructure of concrete also helps prevent corrosion and increase the durability of the structure.
  4. As per the studies, the nanoplatelets of vegetables increase the amount of calcium silicate hydrate (C-S-H), which is the primary compound for providing strength in concrete. The results obtained from carrot additives have superior characteristics compared with traditional cement additives.
  5. Cellulose, as a cement additive, can be obtained in large amounts from vegetable waste available as a by-product of agriculture. Hence, this is a cheap and environmentally friendly source of fibers of concrete.

The testing and studies are still in process to make it a commercially available cement additive.

FAQs

What form of carrots are used in cement?

The cellulose of carrots, stated as nanoplatelets are used as an additive for cement to alter its strength properties. These cellulose are fibrous like materials that alter the way water behaves during cement hydration.

What are the benefits of using carrots as cement additives?

The benefits of using carrots as cement additives are:
1. Dense concrete microstructure
2. Prevention of microcracks in concrete
3. Reduction in cement consumption
4. Increase in the durability of concrete
5. Less carbon dioxide emissions

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