Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) are collaborating with their counterparts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to find ways to use industrial and agricultural by-products.
A major byproduct, biomass ash, is not put to full use due to its complex physio-chemical characteristics. One of the aims of the project is to develop novel building materials that cost less and have a low impact on the environment, compared to the existing materials. Piyush Chaunsali and Ravindra Gettu, professors from the Department of Civil Engineering, along with Elsa A. Olivetti, Atlantic Richfield associate professor of energy studies at MIT, are conducting the research. The project has been taken up under the SPARC initiative of the Union Ministry of Education.
According to Mr. Chaunsali, the unique aspect of the project is its aim to develop a novel framework for high-volume use of industrial by-products in alternative cementitious binders.
Byproducts, such as biomass ash, coal ash, red mud and copper slag, generated in large volumes, could have applications in the construction of roads, buildings and bridges.
Ms. Olivetti said cement concretes were among the most widely used materials, and, hence, have a big impact on the environment.
The researchers are looking at how waste materials available in various regions of India can be reused to reduce their environmental footprint.