Developing low-cement binders with invasive wood chip aggregate

  • Location: South Africa
  • Date: 2019

The mechanically chipped biomass of water-thirsty Invading Alien Plants (IAP’s) to replace conventional aggregates is but one of several examples currently being researched and developed by

A recent paper emanating from the Chair of Sustainable Construction at ETH Zurich titled “Invasive alien plants as an alternative resource for concrete production” has shown that there is enough invading alien woodchip to meet the current housing shortfall in South Africa three-times over.

Combined with a low-cement binder, this wood-chip cement is certified proven as being more fire-proof than conventional building materials (such as cement or clay bricks) with double the thermal insulating properties and half of the weight of conventional concrete.

The clearing of these IAP’s from water catchment areas can contribute to the production of more sustainable biomass-based cement or “nonCrete” building materials – thereby ensuring long-term water security, the restoration of natural ecosystems, the creation of low-tech labour-intensive gender-neutral jobs.

The innovative use of IAP biomass in construction offers significant carbon sequestration opportunities while also addressing the increasing demand for dignified and affordable housing.


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