Grimshaw and the University of East London (UEL), along with support from Tate & Lyle Sugars, have teamed up to create a new biomaterial construction block. Called Sugarcrete, this block is formed from a by-product of sugarcane, bagasse.
The sugarcane industry is vast, and in terms of production volume, it is one of the world’s largest crops. As part of this production, 600 million tonnes of the fibrous by-product bagasse is created, and the team behind Sugarcrete saw the potential in this waste to forge something new and sustainable.
Bagasse is mixed with mineral binders and formed into a polyhedral shape which can then be used to build large sheets of the Sugarcrete, called the Sugarcrete Slab. The slabs are interlocked together, like joins in carpentry and secured in place with perimeter ties. The blocks’ design allows for easy assembly and disassembly of sheets without the need for mortar. They can be reused for multiple projects in the future.
The material is much lighter, four times so, than traditional bricks but also much more lightweight in terms of carbon footprint. Sugarcrete blocks have a significantly lower carbon footprint, only 15-20% of that of standard construction bricks. Additionally, the production process of Sugarcrete results in 20 times less carbon emissions than concrete.
The Sugarcrete slabs could be used for walls, flooring, and roofing. Due to their insulating and fire-resistant properties, they could also be used as insulation panels. All of the research around Sugarcrete is available online, and the team is hopeful that this can help boost the development of the product and its use worldwide.
You can read more about Sugarcrete on UEL’s website here.