Researchers In Syria Have Discovered Concrete Recycling Method.

Researchers In Syria Have Discovered Concrete Recycling Method. Source: Unsplash
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Researchers In Syria Have Discovered Concrete Recycling Method. Source: Unsplash

Reading Time: 3 minutes

War is hell. This sentiment has been repeated throughout human history as the devastation and destruction of countries and communities it causes is incalculable. Syria is a prime example of how civil or otherwise war can destroy a society and its infrastructure.

The war began in the context of high youth unemployment, drought, a one-party dictatorship that crushed basic human freedoms and dignity, and extreme wealth inequality. It was a surprise to no one that in 2011, insurgency by oppressed groups in the region began in earnest, spiralling Syria into a conflict that continues to this day with no end in sight. The devastation this war has brought has caused 5.7 million people to flee the country due to the risk that the war has brought to their lives.

The war destroyed 130,000 buildings, many of these the homes of everyday people and their businesses. All this destruction is horrible, and as if they hadn’t experienced enough of it, Syria fell victim to a 7.7 Richter earthquake in February, expanding the damage even further. However, despite all this horrific destruction, serious efforts have been made to expedite the recovery and reconstruction of this battered country. 70% of the 130,000 buildings destroyed were made of reinforced concrete. Scientists have discovered that they can use a significant amount of this rubble to create new concrete, recycling what is there and saving costs compared to importing new concrete. 

The study led by Professor Abdulkader Rashwani proved that recycled concrete made from the rubble of old buildings doesn’t significantly impact the mechanical performance of the new concrete. This is the first time recycled concrete has been proven to do this, as other attempts in other countries have been made. Still, due to the disparity in methods of manufacture, mechanical performance hasn’t been guaranteed. When people return, they will want to rebuild the buildings that had been destroyed.

Transportation of raw materials is one of the highest costs, and aggregate being increasingly scarce makes recycling existing materials necessary. This recycled concrete is made by crushing the rubble, removing any steel or textiles, and washing the resulting aggregate. The fine material washed out is sand and cement, and it is also being studied to determine if it can be reused.

The material was then tested for tensile and compressive strength and how much water, co2, and chlorine were absorbed. The concrete passed all of the tests, and now the protocol stands as a model for other war-torn or earthquake-damaged countries to rebuild their cities and communities. In an interview with the Guardian, Professor Rashwani said, “It was our duty to help the people there, a lot of people needed our help, so we went there and forgot about all the bad consequences. We have now started to go to some local councils and help them to put some plans in place for the future. We can at least try to make this region safer and give people some hope.”

The costs of war and conflict between nations and nations between people are often horrendous and often borne by the innocent. Most of the buildings destroyed in the fighting were homes of families and individuals who had nothing to do with the war. Yet still, they are left without homes in their home countries. Having a plan with new methods to guarantee quick reconstruction of these buildings is crucial.

The added benefit of this research is that it is a model that can be applied in other places outside Syria. Syria is simply one country at war right now, and if the path of human history indicates what’s to come, it won’t be the last one either. This research is invaluable for the everyday people ravaged by conflict or disaster, now and in the future. 

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