The world’s first carbon concrete building is under construction

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Researchers from the Technical University of Dresden alongside experts from German architectural firm Henn are developing the world’s first carbon concrete building, a report by Dezeen Explain.

The team behind the project will use a new method to reinforce the building’s concrete with carbon fibers rather than steel rods, as part of a Funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research research project aimed at developing construction innovations called “C³ – Carbon Concrete Composite”.

Reduction of CO2 emissions from construction by up to 50%

The building, dubbed The Cube, is currently under construction on the campus of TU Dresden. Henn says its carbon concrete material is four times stronger than traditional concrete while being four times lighter, due to reduced need for additional structural sections.

Newly developed carbon concrete allows for the same structural strength while using much less concrete. “With this new construction material, the lightweight yet strong carbon fibers allow flexible and resource efficient construction. Conversion to this innovative material can reduce CO2 emissions from construction by up to 50%, ”Henn explains on his website. Likewise, the developers of the UK’s second high-speed rail line recently announced that they will use a 3D printing construction method in which concrete is reinforced with graphene instead of steel rods, also reducing construction carbon emissions up to 50%.

A “radically rethink” of architecture

Specifically, the concrete used for The Cube will be reinforced with carbon fiber yarn, obtained by extracting almost pure carbon crystals through a thermal decomposition process known as pyrolysis. The wire is then woven into a mesh onto which concrete is poured before setting. Since carbon fiber does not rust, carbon concrete is also more durable over a longer period of time than concrete reinforced with steel rods. As the structures can be much thinner due to the lack of steel rods – which often require more thickness to prevent water ingress – Henn says this will help “future architecture where environmentally conscious design is combined with formal freedom and a radical overhaul of the most fundamental architectural elements. “

As such, The Cube will feature a roof that folds to become a wall as well, allowing the wall and roof to “functionally merge into each other as an organic continuum,” Henn explains. Such projects not only open up a new form of architectural design, but also a method of construction that causes much less damage to the environment. Take a look at a video describing the Cube building process below.

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