Between 1900 and 2010, the use of natural resources to build infrastructure increased 23-fold, making sand, a major ingredient in concrete, one of the world’s biggest extractions.
Because of that, the world is now facing a potentially disastrous sand shortage that could affect everything from glass-making, to computer chip manufacturing, to the concrete-centric construction industry.
Now, a group of researchers at the Imperial College London have invented a new material they call Finite, a biodegradable concrete substitute that’s more easily disposed of, with half the carbon footprint.
And it’s made from… more sand
Turns out, we aren’t running out of ALL sand, just the courser, grittier water-swept sand found on beaches and river beds conducive to making concrete (its grittiness makes it easier to bind).
But the group has found a way to make Finite using smooth, wind-swept desert sand, which until now has been useless for construction — meaning there’s TONS of it.
Plus, it’s recyclable
Aggressive mining of the scarce resource is destroying water-based environments, killing wildlife in the process.
Finite is not only biodegradable, but unlike concrete, it’s also recyclable, making it ideal for short-term infrastructure like pavilions.
So just to recap… Finite is a biodegradable, reusable product that uses sand we have an abundance of, is just as strong as concrete, and all-in-all better for the environment — what’s the holdup?
The ol’ pencil pushers, of course. According to one of the researchers on the project, they are currently working to get Finite approved for building regulations, then it’s full steam ahead.