Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Japan: Turn food waste into cement

Japan: Turn food waste into cement

TOKYO ( Associated Press) — In the future, edible houses may no longer exist only in fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel.

Researchers Kota Machida and Yuya Sakai, from the University of Tokyo, have developed a technology capable of transforming food waste into “cement” for construction.

It is the world’s first process to manufacture cement purely from waste. Its creators say that the breaking stress of their product is almost four times that of conventional concrete.

Machida and Sakai say they hope to help reduce global warming by mitigating problems related to food waste emitting methane as it rots in landfills.

Sakai, an associate professor of industrial sciences, created the technology while researching sustainable materials capable of replacing cement-based concrete. Cement production accounts for 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Chatham House research institute.

At first he found a way to make concrete by subjecting pulverized wood particles to compression. The drying, spraying and compression process was carried out by means of mixers and compressors available on the market.

Sakai and his disciple Machida decided to do the same with food waste. Previous trials required mixing the materials with plastic to get them to adhere.

After months of failure, they discovered that they could bind the cement by adjusting the temperature and pressure.

“The hardest part is that each type of waste requires different temperatures and pressure levels,” Sakai said.

Other experiments in the use of food waste in construction have mainly consisted of using coffee grounds or ashes from biowaste as fillers in conventional concrete.

Sakai and Machida say he has made cement out of tea leaves, orange and onion peels, coffee grounds, Chinese cabbage and even the remains of school lunches.

They have adjusted the flavors with various spices and found that the colors, aromas and flavors of the cement can be attractive. To eat the material, it would have to be broken into pieces and boiled, Sakai said.

To waterproof the material and protect it from rodents and other pests, it could be coated with Japanese lacquer.

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