Researching the Carbon Offset of Alternatives to Steel

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Richard Howarth
5 minutes

We helped Basalt Technologies prove their product achieves:

  • 2x the strength of steel rebars;
  • A carbon reduction of 40% compared to the production of steel;
  • Basalt fibre production needs less than a third of the power that steel needs during production;
  • A slower rate of deterioration than steel.

Basalt Technology needed Access to Innovation to find evidence supporting the use of their products within the construction industry.

The project team hoped to show that construction can be more sustainable by the replacement of traditional steel and fibres with Basalt bars BFRP, Micro-basalt rebars, and Chopped Basalt fibres.

Steel rebars and steel fibres increases the strength of concrete. Steel reinforcement of concrete is often used in the construction of buildings, bridges, roads and tunnels. There's two large issues with using steel in construction:

  • Steel production causes 7-9% of global CO2 emissions - each tonne produced results in an average of 1.83 tonnes of CO2. Production leads to wastewater contaminants, hazardous wastes and solid wastes. Steel is also susceptible to corrosion, causing reinforced concrete to deteriorate at a faster rate. This compromises the long-term safety of constructions.
  • Basalt Industry rebars and fibres are both made from Continuous Basalt Fibre (CFB), a non-metallic material derived from Basalt Rock. Basalt Rock is an "ecologically clean" raw material, of which supply is near-endless. The rock goes through a single-step extraction process to turn into the CFB. Unlike other steel alternatives, such as carbon-fibre, aramid or glass, CFB doesn't use chemicals in its production.
  • To prove that Basalt products are an ecofriendly and viable alternative to polluting steel products, Access to Innovation's Dr Rabee Shamass formed a research collaboration with Basalt Technologies. Dr Rabee, alongside an undergraduate student, an engineering technician and a Masters student dedicated 101 hours to the project.

This time involved:

  • Project planning and management;
  • Casting samples of concrete beams reinforced with steel rebars;
  • Casting samples of concrete slabs reinforced with steel fibres;
  • Casting samples of concrete beams reinforced with basalt rebars;
  • Casting samples of concrete slabs reinforced with basalt fibres;
  • Casting, preparation and testing of micro-basalt rebars;
  • Ordering cement, aggregate, sand, epoxy and steel tubes;
  • Testing of all concrete beams;
  • Testing of all concrete slabs.

Access to Innovation also provided £3,000 in funding towards the materials needed to complete this project.

The results:

  • We helped Basalt Technology prove that basalt rebars and fibres have a reduction in carbon-output of 40% compared to the production of steel rebars and fibres.
  • An additional reduction of 20% CO2 output occurs during the transportation and logistics of basalt products compared to traditional steel products,
  • Basalt is non-corrosive. This means it increases the durability of concrete structures and reduces maintenance costs.