Exploring Innovations in Construction: Transforming Bio-Waste into Self-Healing Concrete Composites

The EU-funded DEEP PURPLE project developed self-healing concrete composites from cellulose recovered in wastewater. In 2019, a collaborative effort among European partners led to the establishment of an advanced multi-biorefinery platform for conversion of wastewater and the organic fraction of municipal solid waste into bio-based products such as cosmetics, biofertilizers, biopolymers and self-repairing composites for construction. This cutting-edge initiative successfully processes the organic fraction of municipal solidwaste and domestic wastewater, leveraging them as sources of renewable energy and materials for recycling. The platform highlights the untapped potential of wastewater, which is abundant in valuable components such as cellulose. These components are repurposed as feedstocks for various innovative applications, aligning with principles of sustainability and a circular economy. This transformation of bio waste into valuable resources is essential, particularly given the current practice where roughly 75% of the estimated 138 million tonnes of urban bio-waste in the EU are incinerated or landfilled, incurring substantial ecological and economic costs. Such forward-thinking initiatives are imperative to address the pressing need for sustainable waste management solutions in Europe.

The separation and conversion of wastewater into cellulose nanofibers (CNFs) was successfully carried out by project partner ITENE. These CNFs have been essential in the production of advanced self-healing composites for the construction industry.

Additionally, BRUNEL University, another project partner, has utilized these nanofibers in the development of self-healing concrete bricks. This innovative application was accompanied by a comprehensive circular assessment performed by BRUNEL University, evaluating the sustainability and efficiency of CNF utilization in the construction sector. This integration highlights a pivotal step towards more sustainable building materials and practices.

Learn more about the project at https://deep-purple.eu/.

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