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UCLA Engineers receive $1.5 million grant to convert Carbon Dioxide into 3D Printed Concrete

3D printed concrete
3D printed concrete
Above: UCLA engineers to develop 3D printing concrete to reduce carbon emissions occurring due to cement manufacturing/Image Credit: UCLA

A team of engineers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), a public research university in Los Angeles, received a grant of $1.5 million from the National Science Foundation to convert carbon Dioxide into 3D printed concrete as part of a binder used in 3D printing construction applications.

The grant will be primarily used to explore new alternative cements which could reduce the global carbon emission which occurs during cement manufacturing. As per a statistic shared by UCLA engineers, current cement manufacturing process accounts for 8% of global man-made carbon emissions. According to an estimate by the research team, their 3D printed concrete could have a carbon footprint of 60% less than current products.

Speaking on the research, Mathieu Bauchy, a computational materials scientist and an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and a principal investigator of the grant said, “Concrete is by far the most manufactured material in the world, however its large carbon footprint is a major detriment toward its continued use in its current form. This grant allows us to leverage recent developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning to design a more sustainable product. We aim to help construction—a conservative, empiricism-based industry— evolve into a knowledge- and data-intensive industry of the 21st century.”

The research team includes three other UCLA Samueli faculty members, namely, Puneet Gupta – a professor of electrical and computer engineering, Ximin He – an assistant professor of materials science and engineering and Gaurav Sant – professor of civil and environmental engineering.

The researchers will conduct simulations and carry out experiments. They’ll focus on three areas.

  1. Understanding and controlling how slurries of cement flow to enable their use in 3D printing.
  2. Figuring out how to maximize the amount of carbon dioxide being incorporated in this process.
  3. Using machine learning to discover new 3D-printed structures that will offer high load-bearing capabilities, while still being lightweight.

The grant will support graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, and will also allow the team to train undergraduate students.

The grant is part of the NSF’s Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future program.


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