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16 March 2022 Comments (0) Architecture, Environment, Other, Real Estate, Technology

Artificial and ecological sand for construction

Une initiative financée par l’Union européenne a fait d’un sous-produit des centrales électriques au charbon une alternative précieuse à une ressource surexploitée : le sable utilisé par le secteur de la construction.

An initiative funded by the European Union has made a valuable alternative to an overexploited resource from a subproduct of coal-fired power plants: sand used by the construction industry.

According to the United Nations, 50 billion tonnes of sand are mined every year, causing huge environmental problems. For example, sand extraction from rivers weakens riverbanks and lowers groundwater, while sand extraction from coastal areas causes coastal erosion and threatens biodiversity. These problems will only increase in the future, because the rate of sand consumption is twice as high as what nature produces. At the same time, due to climate change, the production of natural sand is decreasing. And, bad luck, desert sand cannot be used in construction due to its special geometry.

One solution is to replace sand with the use of ash produced by coal-fired power plants. Currently, 256 coal-fired power plants are still in operation in the EU, and all of them produce ash. 

Sand from coal combustion products

Huge potential

The EU-funded SMARTSAND project led by ZaaK Technologies GmbH has developed artificial sand for use in the construction industry. It is a superior alternative to natural sand and crushed stone, materials which are widely used in the building and construction industry. 

This “smart” sand has significant advantages such as lightness (up to 55% lighter than standard sand used in construction), thermal insulation and extended life, while allowing power plants to reduce waste, disposal costs and its environmental impact.

As we can see, this reused sand aims to help put an end to the depletion of natural sand. It is also a perfect example of a circular economy. 

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