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Mining Engineer Turns Waste into Concrete Substitute

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UA-invented sustainable building material
A disc made by University of Arizona startup Acrete exemplifies advantages of the new building material. (Photo: Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona)

Mining Engineer Turns Waste into Concrete Substitute

Feb. 23, 2017
Lighter, stronger and less expensive than concrete, Acrete -- brainchild of Jinhong Zhang, associate professor of UA mining and geological engineering -- uses three times as much waste and converts it into useful building material.

While fly ash serves as an additive in the production of Portland cement-based concrete products, it tends to make up only about 30 percent of the solid material. Alternatively, fly ash provides nearly 100 percent of the solids in Acrete for the end product without the addition of cement.

Acrete can have as much as three times the compressive strength of cement and twice the flexural strength," says Tech Launch Arizona licensing manager Bob Sleeper, who collaborated with Zhang to protect and commercialize the invention. "It repels water, and we can control the workability by tweaking the recipe."