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How does Gnanli Landrou transform mud into eco-friendly concrete?

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Inspired by the earthen houses in his home country of Togo, Zurich-based materials scientist and entrepreneur Dr. Gnanli Landrou developed a cement-free building material that hardens in 24 to 48 hours.

The product, called Cleancrete, is made with water, clay-based excavation materials that are traditionally wasted, and a non-toxic mineral-based additive that gives the mixture concrete-like properties.

cubes of cleancrete
One-sixth as strong and 20 times more eco-friendly than traditional concrete, Cleancrete can be used for non-structural building elements like floors, interior walls, decorative facades, and outdoor furniture and structures. Landrou is also partnering with Burkwil Architects to build a Cleancrete-based apartment complex in Zurich.

This video from the BBC World Service’s People Fixing the World series goes behind the scenes with Gnanli Landrou and his mission to create more sustainable and affordable housing options around the globe.

observing an architectural model
Concrete is the second most consumed material on Earth after water, and according to Princeton University, the cement industry is responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions. Via

“Concrete is made by adding sand and gravel to cement, whisking the mixture with water and pouring it into moulds before it dries. Making the cement is the most carbon-intensive part: it involves using fossil fuels to heat a mixture of limestone and clay to more than 1,400  °C in a kiln. Also, when limestone (calcium carbonate) is heated with clays, roughly 600 kilograms of carbon dioxide is released for every tonne of cement produced.”

Landrou’s company, co-founded with Dr. Thibault Demoulin, is named ‘Oxara’, which means ‘gathering and community’ in Lamb-Kabyè, a national language of Togo.

the two co-founders of oxara
Watch these related videos next:
The Problem with Concrete
Seashell inspiration: Growing cement bricks with bacteria
How are sustainable SuperAdobe homes built?
Mud Frontiers, an exploration of 3D-printed mud shelters and objects
Shelter in 24hrs: An Emergency Concrete-laced Canvas Tent

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