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Dalhousie University

Investigating the Use of Natural Materials for Full Scale Construction

The 2021 Dalhousie Precast Studio continues to explore the natural materials investigation in concrete off-site construction by focusing on the potentials to build full scale and to develop in-depth material experiments. The students worked on investigating the use of biochar in concrete as a fine aggregate for full scale construction. This work was executed and delivered in the summer 2021 remote-learning free lab, and in the design and construction of a full scale demonstrator.

The Precast Studio professors and students believe these technologies have the potential to expand the sustainable technologies of the precast concrete sector by further integrating natural material resources into this sector’s workflow. Potential benefits in this application of biochar are reduction in sand consumption, increased strength at low percentages, and enhanced thermal and hygroscopic properties. Potential impacts of biochar as a sand replacement that need mitigation include reduced compressive strength and permeability at higher percentages, and increased ac