Concrete is the world’s second-most consumed commodity after water, and its production accounts for more than 7% CO2 emissions globally. The aim to achieve to limit warming of the planet to 1.5C will require significant changes across the construction sector, not to say how we use concrete.
Using less concrete by eliminating waste and overdesign is an easy win.
A research project Automating Concrete Construction funded by UKRI focuses on researching how digital design and automation in production methods can be used to develop concrete floor systems with CO2 emissions reduced drastically. A segmented thin-shell floor solution is used to achieve this and can be produced off-site using robotics. The design of the concrete floor systems is such to be demountable, transportable, and reusable at the end of its first life to enable circularity in construction.
The interdisciplinary project receives participation from researchers at the University of Cambridge, University of Dundee, and University of Bath. The research team at the University of Cambridge is involved in the realization of real-scale demonstrator of 4.5 m by 4.5 m shell floor system. The initiative is using new construction robotic resources within the purview of the research institution behind the initiative.
In fact, the development of a segmented concrete shell led to design and develop an entirely new concrete mold that is reusable and reconfigurable and is compatible with the robotic spraying system. The development of this new mold demonstrates association between the Department of Engineering workshops and the research team.
Meanwhile, the in-house design team of the Department of Engineering worked with the developers of the concrete system to develop a modular pin-bed solution. This uses an array of computer-controlled pistons that traverses vertically to support and disfigure a flexible framework of composite strips.