New Funding for Sustainable Concrete Substitute

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) researchers Nima Rahbar and Suzanne Scarlata have received $692,386 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to further develop their Enzymatic Construction Material (ECM), a ‘living’: low-cost construction material with negative CO2 emissions. They developed the material as an alternative to concrete, which is responsible for serious greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. According to the scientists, the new material has properties that can compete with those of concrete.
ECM is made by an enzymatic process involving carbonic anhydrase, an enzyme that converts carbon dioxide and water into hydrogen carbonate. This reaction produces calcium carbonate crystals, which are the main component of ECM. A sand slurry is also added, along with a polymer, which initially holds the ECM together. In addition, this process allows ECM to repair itself and repair cracks or other imperfections.

Credits: Worcester Polytechnic Institute