Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a new technology capable of turning any type of food waste into edible cement for construction, with a tensile strength four times that of ordinary concrete.
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The initiative was started by a desire to reduce global warming. Most food that is wasted contributes to global warming by releasing methane into the atmosphere during decomposition. In addition, cement production contributes up to 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Yuya Sakai, an associate professor of industrial sciences, has ventured into research to find sustainable materials that can be used in cement production.
Related: Food waste will rise to 66 tonnes per second if left unchecked
In the beginning, Sakai developed a way to make concrete by subjecting wood particles to thermal compression. The process involved three steps: drying, spraying and compression. He used simple mixers and compressors that can be purchased on Amazon. Later, Sakai and his student Kota Machida tried the same approach with food waste.
In their first trials, they had to use plastic to make the food waste cement sufficiently tensile. However, after months of testing, they ended up with pure food waste cement simply by adjusting the temperature and pressure used in the process.
So far, researchers have been able to make cement from tea leaves, orange and onion peel, coffee grounds, Chinese cabbage, and even leftover lunch boxes in some cases. They also knew how to modulate the flavors of their product and give it different colors. They say cement can be eaten after being broken into pieces and boiled.
Sakai says cement could be instrumental in making temporary houses for evacuation purposes where it can be converted into food if it runs out. “For example, if food can’t be delivered to evacuees, they could eat makeshift beds made of food cement,” he said.
To make the cement waterproof, it can be coated with Japanese lacquer. Researchers suggest this as a way to protect it from being eaten by rodents. If adopted, cement could help reduce the world’s growing burden of waste.
“Our ultimate hope is that this cement will replace plastic and cement products, which have worse environmental impacts,” Machida said.
Via Fox, Washington Post
Main image via Pexels