University Engineers Earn Grant for 3D-Printed Concrete Research

Prototype samples of 3D-printed concrete. Image courtesy of UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.

A research team consisting of engineers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Henry Samueli School of Engineering (Los Angeles, California, USA) receiveda $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) (Alexandria, Virginia, USA) to develop 3D-printed concrete that incorporates carbon dioxide as part of a binder.

Proceeds from the NSF grant, which is part of the foundation’s Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future program, will be used to support graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, as well as to allow members of the UCLA Samueli School research team to train undergraduate students.

By incorporating carbon dioxide into the manufacturing process, the team’s 3D-printed concrete reduces carbon emissions by 60% as compared to current products. According to the UCLA Samueli School, the cement-making process accounts for approximately 8% of global man-made carbon emissions.

“Concrete is by far the most manufactured material in the world, however its large carbon footprint is a major detriment toward its continued use in its current form,” says Mathieu Bauchy, the grant’s principal investigator and an assistant professor at the Samueli School. “This grant allows us to leverage recent developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning to design a more sustainable product. We aim to help construction—a conservative, empiricism-based industry— evolve into a knowledge- and data-intensive industry of the 21st century.”

According to the university, Bauchy and his research team will conduct simulations and perform experiments that focus on three key areas: one, understanding and controlling the flow of slurries of cement in their 3D-printed concrete-making process; two, maximizing the amount of carbon dioxide that is incorporated into the process; and three, utilizing machine learning to discover new 3D-printed structures that are load bearing but also lightweight.

Source: UCLA Samueli School of Engineering,