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Flowers & Power: Scratchy, cheap jute fibers can make concrete stronger — sustainably

KatieCottingham
New Contributor III
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Jute, that scratchy, stiff vegetable fiber used to make burlap sacks and twine, could have a brand-new use in the near future. According to a study in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, it could serve as a sustainable strengthener for concrete and mortar.

Surprisingly, jute is the second most-widely used fiber after cotton. It’s part wood and part textile. India, China and Bangladesh grow the most jute. In fact, it’s even been dubbed the “Golden Fiber of Bangladesh.” And it is easy to grow — it just needs lots of water.

Concrete can crack over time, so researchers have been developing fibers to reinforce the cement compositions used to make concrete and mortar, which are some of the most popular building materials. And a stronger concrete won’t crack as much. A lot of people are now interested in using economical, sustainable natural fibers instead of those made from steel or synthetics.

In previous research, Subhasish Majumder and colleagues showed that jute works as a reinforcement fiber.

Their new study discovered another advantage of jute — it also delays the hardening of concrete and mortar, which must be trucked to construction sites.

“The prolonged setting of these fiber-reinforced cement composites would be beneficial for applications where the pre-mixed cement aggregates are required to be transported from a distant place to construction site,” the report states.

“Effect of Jute as Fiber Reinforcement Controlling the Hydration Characteristics of Cement Matrix,” ...

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Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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