Earthmoving News, Environment & Research

Coffee boosts concrete strength by 30 per cent

RMIT engineers have found a way of making stronger concrete with roasted used-coffee grounds.

The team has developed a technique to make concrete 30 per cent stronger by turning waste coffee grounds into biochar, which can replace a portion of the sand used to make concrete.

“The disposal of organic waste poses an environmental challenge as it emits large amounts of greenhouse gases, including methane and carbon dioxide, which contribute to climate change,” Lead author Dr Rajeev Roychand says.

With millions of kilograms of waste coffee going to landfill each year, generating greenhouse gases as it decomposes, this research could lead the way for this waste stream to be reused within the construction industry.

“The inspiration for our work was to find an innovative way of using the large amounts of coffee waste in construction projects rather than going to landfills – to give coffee a ‘double shot’ at life,” Roychand says.

“Several councils that are battling with the disposal of organic waste have shown interest in our work.

“They have already engaged us for their upcoming infrastructure projects incorporating pyrolysed forms of different organic wastes.”

RMIT University researchers Dr Rajeev Roychand, Dr Mohammad Saberian and Dr Shannon Kilmartin-Lynch with Jordan Carter, Co-founder of the Indigenous-owned Talwali Coffee Roasters (pictured left to right). Credit: Carelle Mulawa-Richards, RMIT University

The researchers plan to develop practical implementation strategies and work towards field trials. The team is keen to collaborate with various industries to develop their research.

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