ASR Group’s Research & Technology team, based at our Thames Refinery in London, recently collaborated with the University of East London (UEL) and Grimshaw Architects on an exciting project to produce a sustainable construction material using sugarcane fiber, called bagasse. The prototype floor-slab, called Sugarcrete™, has the potential to provide a low-carbon alternative to concrete, thanks in large part to the properties of sugarcane that make it one of the world’s most efficient and sustainable crops.
According to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, building operations and construction account for almost 40% of the world’s energy-related CO2 emissions.
The prototype Sugarcrete slab we helped develop was produced using advanced digital modelling and robotic fabrication. It can be applied, disassembled or extended in new or existing structures, and it presents high-quality mechanical, acoustic, fire and thermal properties. Testing has shown promising results for Sugarcrete to be used use as insulation panels, lightweight blocks, load bearing blockwork and structural floor and roof slabs.
Plans are in the works for the prototype to be tested in countries in the southern hemisphere, where much of the world’s sugarcane is grown. The production of a sustainable, bagasse-based building material in those regions would not only help reduce global carbon emissions, but would also provide a boon for economies in areas where sugarcane is grown.
Using materials, learnings and ideas shared by our company, UEL and its students produced the viable prototype through hours of research and testing.
Earlier this year, we were privileged to be invited to attend the visit of His Majesty King Charles III to UEL to celebrate its 125th anniversary, which was made even more special by seeing the interest the King displayed in the Sugarcrete slabs.
Our Sugarcrete collaboration is not the first time our Research & Technology team has helped innovate a sustainable construction material. In recent years, the team partnered with expert brick makers to find a unique and sustainable reuse for calcium carbonate cake from our Thames Refinery, turning a by-product from the sugar refining process into a valuable raw material that serves as a sustainable and renewable alternative to fireclay.