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Biological Concrete, Is it the Future of Sustainable material?

Creative thinking about the functionality of the present construction techniques, is required in order to extend their future capabilities. As sustainability became no longer just a trend for design but it became an important part of this process, Sustainable solutions became a pressing issue in the current design status, and in this matter the Structural Technology Group of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – BarcelonaTech (UPC) has created a type of concrete that maintains and enhances the development of a large number of natural life forms on its surface.

Interpretations of the Vertical Gardens and Vegetated Facades has been seen, but what differs the biological concrete from these structures, is that it is a basic part of the structure itself. As indicated by an article in Science Daily, the framework is made out of three layers on top of the auxiliary components that together give organic, warm and stylish favorable conditions for the building.

The biological layer which enhances the growth for the plants mainly is concrete with calibrated base of cement that increases the growth of plants, and especially accommodated to for particular mosses and lichens. By and large, the concrete’s pH levels are high. The prefect condition for the concrete is below 9, however the conventional Portland Cement pH level can be about 12 to 13, which has to be lowered to an adequate level. But these are not the perfect conditions the UPC researchers look for. Rather, the biological layer is developed using magnesium phosphate cement that is marginally more acidic and does not oblige treatment to diminish its pH levels.

Mosses can flourish in levels of pH as low as 5 – levels that most different plants don’t thrive in. Constraining the opposition by decreasing pH levels will probably enhance the colonization of Mosses. This methodology will encourage researchers to create different types of cement with a variety of pH levels to enhance the growth of different kinds of organisms, either they are moss, microalgae or lichens.

The construction of this living concrete is made of three layers on and auxiliary surface. The first one consists of a waterproof film, which shields the auxiliary surface from the water entrance. The biological layer is set atop of this layer and act as microstructure that absorbs the rain water, hold it and store it. The last layer is an intermittent covering that allows the passage of water and traps it between the covering and the waterproof film. This regulates the water volume that gets into the organic film without affecting the structure’s safety.

There are several benefits to this system. The plant absorbs CO2 from the air and give O2 instead. Also the layer act as a thermal insulating mass. It aids in managing the temperature by absorbing heat and in hot weather prevent it from penetrating the building and its loss in cold climates.

This concrete material is patented, but it’s still experimental though. Specialists are exploring different avenues regarding the sorts of cement that can be used to enhance different types of plant development. These mixtures in the facades, on both decorative and biological aspects, add varieties and shading to any exterior be it a new building or a renovated one.

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