Scientists produce biocement from urea & industrial carbide sludge

By Tejaswita Tiwari  | Date: 2022-06-13

Scientists produce biocement from urea & industrial carbide sludge

A group of scientists at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has come up with a novel method to create biocement out of waste, introducing a greener and more sustainable alternative to making traditional cement.

The biocement – a type of renewable cement that relies on bacteria to onset solidification that binds soil into a firm block – has been produced by the NTU scientists using urea derived from mammalian urine and industrial carbide sludge, both very common waste materials.  

Essentially, the scientists developed a method to make a hard solid or precipitate by introducing urea with calcium ions present in industrial carbide sludge.

The interaction between urea and calcium ions occurs in the soil, allowing the precipitate to bind with soil particles and eliminating the gaps between the structure which subsequently results in a compact mass of soil.

Following the interaction and binding, a strong, durable, and relatively less porous block of biocement is produced. 

In February 2022, the team of researchers led by Professor Chu Jian, Chair of the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering demonstrated through a proof-of-concept research paper that the biocement produced could potentially emerge as a sustainable and affordable alternative.

According to the researchers, the biocement will help improve soil health by controlling beach erosion, strengthening the ground meant for construction of excavation, reducing dust and wind erosion in the desert, and building freshwater reservoirs in the desert or on beaches.   

In addition to this, the novel cement can also be applied as a biogrout in sealing cracks present in rocks for seepage control and even to repair monuments like statues or carvings.

Prof Chu claims that the new research enhances the sustainability of biocement by using waste materials. From a long-term perspective, the research will not only reduce manufacturing costs of biocement but will also reduce the expenditure on waste disposal.

The latest research is in line with the NTU 2025 strategy focusing on some of humanity’s grand challenges, such as mitigating human impact on the environment by advancing R&D in sustainability.

Source Credit:,urea%20(from%20mammalian%20urine).

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Tejaswita Tiwari

Tejaswita Tiwari

Being born in a family of readers, Tejaswita has always had a natural flair for writing, using that enthusiasm to become a full-fledged writer after earning her MBA in Marketing. Her insatiable curiosity to learn about various verticals has made her a popular research...

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