Pat Shingleton: "A Concrete Idea..."
In strength and durability, steel is at the top of the list with concrete number two. Water is the most widely used material and concrete repeats as second on that list. Recently experts focused the reason for flooding in Texas was due to the amount of concrete "poured." Concrete is certainly a valuable component of our infrastructure, however the consequence is the depletion of areas of natural absorption that assist in diverting flood waters. Research notes that concrete cannot be fully recycled and two years ago a resurrected solution included the use of lightning. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Holzkirchen, Germany, resurrected a method that was developed by Russian scientists in the 1940s. It is called electrodynamic fragmentation. To properly breakdown and recycle concrete, all components must be identified and separated. The problem with recycling concrete is the separation of cement, water, and aggregate. This aggregate includes a mixture of stone particles - consisting of gravel and limestone grit. To accomplish this separation, the research team placed concrete in water and blasted it with a 150-nanosecond bolt of lightning. The bolt ran through solid material, creating a small explosion and tore apart and chopped-down its components. These fragmentation plants can process one ton of concrete waste per hour with larger volumes expected in the future.