Students of Heriot-Watt University, the first British university to set up a campus in Dubai International Academic City in 2005, and with a five-star rating in the Higher Education Classification by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), today displayed their research solution for the production of sustainable concrete at the 7th Annual International Conference for Sustainable Construction Materials. Using recycled coarse aggregate and ceramic waste, both of which are widely available in the UAE, the resulting green concrete is of high quality, brings down production costs by as much as 22% and lowers carbon dioxide emissions as part the manufacturing process by as much as 23%.

Speaking on the occasion, Matt Smith, Associate Head of the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society at Heriot-Watt University Dubai said, “From discovery to application, our pioneering research delivers results with far reaching global impact, helping to transform society and drive the economy. Additionally, we aim to make outcomes freely and quickly available to all. Our research results shared today are another example of the same. Studies by the International Energy Agency (IEA) show that the construction industry accounts for an incredible 36% of worldwide energy usage, and 40% of CO2 emissions. We are therefore pleased to present the efficient use of Ceramic Waste Powder, Ceramic Fine Aggregate and Recycled Coarse Aggregate from the UAE as alternatives to Cement, Natural Fine Aggregate and Natural Coarse Aggregate respectively. We are immensely proud of our students’ research accomplishments.”

Traditionally cement has many advantages: it is cheap, has a low maintenance cost, is easy to shape, is fire and weather resistant and does not call for high-skilled labour. However it is not eco-friendly – studies show that every ton of cement produces 710 kg of CO2 emissions and the large amounts of aggregates in concrete eat up natural resources. Additionally, construction and demolition waste which includes cement is almost always sent to landfills, and these have a high social, economic and environmental cost. The green concrete solution presented by Heriot-Watt University students contributes to the practice of sustainable construction, as well as reduces the usage of landfills.

This research initiative was undertaken by Syed Talha Muhammad Ali, Ali Rostami and Meirzhan Kurtayev, students from Heriot-Watt University’s School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society, under the guidance of Dr. Mustafa Batikha, Assistant Professor – Civil Engineering. Chosen from 6,900+ applications worldwide, it was funded under the Expo Live University Innovation Programme of the upcoming Dubai Expo 2020.

This programme aims to fund novel and innovative solutions that encapsulate the spirit of Expo 2020 Dubai’s overall theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.