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Green Integrated Structural Elements for Retrofitting and New Construction of Buildings

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GREEN INSTRUCT (Green Integrated Structural Elements for Retrofitting and New Construction of Buildings)

Reporting period: 2016-10-01 to 2018-03-31

The Green INSTRUCT project will develop a prefabricated modular structural building block that is superior to conventional precast reinforced concrete panels by virtue of its reduced weight, improved acoustic and thermal performance and multiple functionalities but with reduced carbon and embedded energy through innovation on materials and manufacturing.

The use of a host of CDWs, including waste PU, recycled concrete aggregate, red brick, wood, plastics and aluminium combined with an innovative production technique and a novel assembly strategy will allow for an improvement of thermal, acoustic, structural and weight properties, compared to traditional structural wall panels, that is partially or wholly replaceable during service.

The innovative aspects of the Green INSTRUCT project include sustainability and cost savings through CDW sourced materials while maintaining recyclability of the components in a C2C approach.
The primary waste streams characterized by high technical and economic potential have been identified, and all the required and relevant CDW materials have been acquired, e.g. waste brick, PU foam, textiles, polymers, glass, wood and aluminium (as shown in Figure 1).

Preparation of the final version of the aluminium profile design (shown in Figure 2) took into account the technological production possibilities, thermal resistance, economic conditions, ease of integration and weight.

The PCM impregnation device was built to achieve 100% aggregate absorption. The PCM aggregates were determined to be thermally stable with a high heat storage capacity. The final aggregates are shown in Figure 3. (a).

Waste bricks, EPS, XPS and glass were found to be suitable for the development of geopolymer construction elements. The incorporation of EPS in the geopolymer provided a significant reduction in density without significantly compromising compressive strength. CDW PE fibers also showed good dispersion and increased the flexural strength. A processing technique for the conversion of glass into water glass that can be used as the activation solution was developed and optimized. The final geopolymer material is shown in Figure 3. (b).

The thermal and mechanical properties of PU foam with PU foam CDW filler did not show any deterioration. Also, samples with reinforcing wood fibres exhibited positive results in terms of compressive strength gain. The most recent production of PU foam is shown in Figure 3. (c).

The latest green wall design is shown in Figure 3. (d)). Two green wall designs have been tested for water treatment capacity and plant growth. Preliminary water retention time and water cleaning performance tests are very positive, especially with the newly adopted substrate material.

Comprehensive phase identification analysis has been conducted to observe the differences in microstructure and phase assemblage of the produced MOC cement as a result of the MgO calcination therapy used. A calcination therapy with very low energy consumption and no emissions was achieved. The MgO obtained was found to be capable of producing a binder consisting dominantly of the highly desirable hydration products. The most current MOC material to be produced is shown in Figure 3. (e).

Several trials of sol-gel synthesis experiments using various precipitation agents, hydrolysis mediums and dopants have led to the successful development of the photocatalytic agent. The performance of the coating exhibited increased absorption in visible region, improved thermal stability and liquid pollutant degradation, as shown in Figure 3. (f).

CDW materials have gone through extensive characterization and performance evaluation trials to determine their suitability for fibre production. Surface contamination issues have been dealt with appropriate chemical and physical treatment. For polymer fibres, obtaining the required viscosity and fibre diameter has been achieved with special chemical admixtures and adjustment of the fibre extruder. A sample of fibres extruded from CDW PE is shown in Figure 3. (g).

A novel 2 component adhesive (shown in Figure 3. (h)) with a high content of CDW filler and CDW fibers was developed. The new formulation was characterized, as far as tensile strength, shore and elongation are concerned. It was also tested for bonding individual constituents of GI panel. The results showed an excellent performance in comparison with a commercial adhesive.

The die plates which have been designed for extrusion of the geopolymer and MOC are light, easy to clean and simultaneously provide resistance to high temperatures and protection from alkali corrosion (Figure 4). The first trial test panel extrusion revealed important features of the extrusion process that must rectified, but was an overall success.

The Green INSTRUCT building block went through several integration and installation design iterations, which considered assembly procedu
The largest and the most important impact that the outcomes of the Green INSTRUCT project can make is the realisation of the introduction of a building block with higher resource and production efficiency that will ultimately contribute to a climate change resilient construction economy.

Currently, there doesn’t exist a building block that is made from a comprehensive and streamlined supply chain of construction and demolition waste materials and can be used for both new constructions and building retrofitting. The Green INSTRUCT project aims to utilise the continuous manufacturing technology of extrusion to produce the individual panels of the building block and the structural frame. The building block will also capture CO2 from the management of grey and storm water using an integrated vertical green wall. Introducing such a building block would significantly contribute to the resilience and sustainability of the construction sector in the UK and worldwide, as it would allow the industry to address the intrinsic CO2 emission.

The Green INSTRUCT project will allow the creation of multiple PhD and Post-Doctorate positions for the investigation of the applied technology that can contribute towards bridging the fundamental science of the project with the industrial application. The PhD and Post-Doctorate positions will not only generate significant added value for the project but also maximize the chance for the outcomes of the project to make a real impact.
Figure 3.(a) PCM aggregates
Figure 6 Modelling of thermal and acoustic performance of GI panel
Figure 3.(d) Green wall
Figure 3.(h) Structural adhesives
Figure 4.(b) Extrusion of cement-based materials in process
Figure 4.(a) Extruder with extrusion die plate
Figure 3.(g) Fibre production
Figure 3.(e) MOC
Figure 5 Design of GI panel
Figure 1 CDW raw materials
Figure 3.(f) Photocatalytic coating
Figure 2 Aluminium profile
Figure 3.(b) Geopolymer from red brick powder
Figure 3.(c) PU foam