Reducing carbon footprint of 3D printed materials

Research exploring the capture of carbon dioxide from industrial emissions and sequestering it into a mineralised form in 3D printed building materials is set to go ahead.

Oregon State University in the USA has teamed up with Sandia, which is the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, plus two industry partners, Graymont, and Verdant Building Alternatives, for the research. The research team has received a three-year US$540,00 grant from the US Department of Energy.

Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, Pavan Akula, from OSU’s College of Engineering said the goal is to take a sector of the economy that is a large emitter of carbon dioxide and make it significantly greener.

“The construction industry is responsible for generating 13% of global CO₂ emissions,” he said. “In recent years, 3D printing technology for concrete has been gaining popularity in building construction as it is a more sustainable alternative – it reduces both waste and transport costs. However, most 3D printing of concrete still relies only on traditional materials that are really carbon intensive.”

With Portland cement the most common type of binder used in concrete, the research team plans to capture CO₂ emitted from the lime and cement industries and develop sustainable binders capable of storing and mineralising the captured CO₂ in printed building components such as walls.

“Our project aims to develop technologies and materials that can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of materials used in 3D printing,” Professor Akula explained.

“Shrinking the carbon footprint of cement-based construction materials is imperative if we’re to hit decarbonisation and climate targets set by the Paris Agreement.”

About the author

Desi Corbett

Desi is the Editor of Concrete in Australia and at the helm of our magazine for 8 years. She was behind the Institute's weekly news bulletins from 2016-2021 and is now writing our focused news items. Desi has been an engineering news and features journalist/editor across all disciplines since 2013 - part of a 30-year career writing for a wide range of industries.