A Guide to Desert Sand Concrete and The Desert Sand Building Material Called Finite
Jackie Kaufman is a freelance writer that shares her knowledge and studies of construction and environmental sustainability industries. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her kids hiking the trails of Colorado where she and her family currently live.
While it may sound far-fetched, the high demand for sand is a major concern. While it is often seen as an infinite resource, it's becoming further from the case. Sand is used worldwide in multiple industries, especially when it comes to construction. Mostly extracted from beaches and river banks, it was always seen that sand from deserts was considered useless due to its lack of grittiness.
While it's often considered too fine to bind together, the group at Finite is here to prove multiple industries wrong. But before we jump into it, what is desert sand concrete? Well, desert sand is still a fairly new concept, but it's already proving that it has the potential to protect ecosystems. There have been numerous studies behind it, but the English start-up known as Finite takes all the thanks for coming up with the concept. Wanting to demonstrate the power of natural materials, they want to focus on reducing engineering costs and protecting ecosystems, all while reducing the carbon footprint of construction.
While traditional concrete has a large carbon footprint and overall negative impact, this new material, which is blended up with desert sand and other fine powers, will be able to manipulate and bind together to form concrete. Plus, this is biodegradable too, unlike traditional concrete.
Current Studies and Results
Image Source: Curbed.com
Desert sand concrete is still in the test phase, but the construction industry has a lot of hope that this will become the new trend in green building materials. There's been more research happening to ensure that this material can make it. The CEO of MultiCON, Leopold Halser, has stated, "Our concrete actually displays better characteristics than conventional concrete in terms of weight, durability, stability, and frost resistance." So, it's projected that not only will sand concrete be a more eco-friendly version of concrete, but it will have higher stability too.
The original company, Finite, started with post-graduate students from London Imperial College, with the hopes that this new material could be just as strong as traditional concrete but also entirely manufactured with finer grains of sand. Sand mining has been environmentally damaging, something that the Finite team wants to end. The end goal for Finite is to have the Middle East utilize its raw materials in deserts.
Potential Benefits of Finite in Construction
Image source: Mashable.com
While there are still ongoing studies about desert sand concrete, there are very high hopes that this will revolutionize green building materials. Here are some potential benefits that Finite could bring to the construction industry.
1. No worries about shortages
It's no secret that the supply of construction-grade sand is running low on a global scale. The sand typically used for concrete is stripped from beaches, lakes, and river beds. Since this sand has been used too heavily and constantly extracted, it means that the supply of it is beginning to diminish. However, the bright side is the fact that desert sand is abundant. Desert sand isn't being used, so Finite is looking to use it to have the same strength as residential concrete.
2. Keeps precious eco-systems safe
While sand is the crucial fuel needed for urban development all over the world, it has destroyed precious ecosystems. Since the mining for sand has become more aggressive, this does impact the environment, causing millions upon millions of deaths of animals all in the process of extracting sand. On top of this, it has also caused lakes and riverbeds to dry up too. There are fewer ecosystems at risk where sand dunes are located. Therefore, this can save the dwindling ecosystems where traditional sand is being extracted.
Not only can this help save precious ecosystems, but it's eco-friendly too. The material is far more environmentally friendly than concrete, and the carbon footprint is only half what traditional concrete is. One major difference is the fact that tradition is often sent to landfills, as it doesn't get downcycled. Desert sand concrete, on the other hand, is able to be remolded and can easily be used for multiple lifecycles.
This material can be used with resin casting and even with natural dyes. While it's still one of the newer innovations, it's proven to be recyclable and a step up compared to traditional concrete. On top of this, Finite wants their product to be used in desert areas where the local sand can be used rather than imported, which will also help the environment.
4. Can help prevent black market activity
Unfortunately, one secret that the sand industry holds is the fact that there is a lot of black market activity that lurks. In fact, it's a serious problem in countries such as India. Criminal gangs will gather to strip the sand on their local beaches and rivers—the Finite team hopes to end this illegal activity, so the ecosystems can replenish. There may be challenges down the road as sand mining is a multi-billion dollar industry, but there's always the potential that this could become ethical and eco-friendly.
5. More reliable than other building alternatives
While green building materials have limitations, such as wood or brick, desert sand seems to be proving to be a better option. Currently, desert sand concrete is significantly more durable than traditional concrete. While there is an ever-growing demand for concrete thanks to the rise of urban development, desert sand has the power to be just as strong as steel. This type of concrete is durable and lighter, and it's becoming fully optimized.
Desert Sand - A New Sustainable Building Material
As for now, there are still studies happening with desert sand concrete. There's a lot of hope that this will sweep the construction industry as more companies are after something more eco-friendly and sustainable. At the moment, the material is only suitable for temporary construction products.
This is beneficial as it can be left to be decomposed or even be reused again. It still needs to pass some tests to ensure that it can be used for long-term permanent structures and can be approved for building regulations. So, currently, Finite is not being commercialized just yet, but with the planet's limited amount of sand, this may come up in the construction industry in the near future.
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