UoM Recycles Wood Formwork for Biodegradable Construction
Asia/ Terra/ Sustainability

UoM Researchers Develop Biodegradable Concrete Formwork Using Wood Waste

Header Uo M Researchers Develop Biodegradable Concrete Formwork Using Wood Waste Photo by Instagram/@dart.umich

A research team at the University of Michigan has developed a unique solution to mitigate wood waste in the construction industry. Named ‘Shell Wall,’ the biodegradable formwork is created from sawdust, paving the way for more sustainable concrete construction practices.

This initiative, known as the BioMatters project, was spearheaded by the Digital Architecture Research and Technologies (DART) Lab at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Led by DART director Mania Aghaei Meibodi, along with researchers Muhammad Dayyem Khan and Tharanesh Varadharajan, the project aimed to repurpose industrial sawdust in a bid to reduce waste associated with traditional wood formwork used in concrete construction.

The research team successfully combined sawdust with biopolymers and additives to fabricate their innovative material. This mixture can be moulded or 3D-printed into various shapes, demonstrating its versatile application in creating concrete formwork.

UoM Researchers Develop Biodegradable Concrete Formwork Using Wood Waste

According to the DART Lab, around 15 billion trees are cut down each year worldwide, leading to three million pounds of sawdust being dumped into landfills in the United States alone. Additionally, formwork contributes to up to 40% of concrete construction costs and typically uses wood. It is usually discarded after a single use, contributing to the significant waste issue.

The team's solution not only addresses the issue of wood waste but also has potential beyond concrete construction. The material can be sanded and stained like wood, enabling a smoother finish. The end material also offers up to 72% less weight compared to a solid concrete wall made using conventional means, all while providing the same structural integrity and strength.

Further exploration is required to determine which types of wood are most effective for this innovative, eco-friendly material, opening a new frontier in sustainable construction practices.

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