Andreea Moisei

The Viability of Biochar in the Built Environment

The goal of this research was to test the viability of substituting biochar in building materials in place of cement, or in addition to concrete recipes. This research looked specifically into the potential for biochar as brick-like building blocks by testing its ability to be molded, as well as its compressive strength, and three-point bending strength. Nine concrete recipes varying in the amount of biochar substituted for either the sand or cement content were tested for their maximum compressive strength and three-point bending load capacities on both their horizontal and vertical spans. They were quantitatively observed during mixing and curing for changes presented by the different formulas. By uncovering whether local biochar can become a viable alternative to other regularly used building and design materials, such as concrete blocks or bricks, that have much greater embodied carbon footprints, especially with the cement content found in them, the built environment can work towards creating buildings that can act as carbon sinks, rather than continuing to contribute to embodied carbon and other CO2 emissions. This research ultimately found that biochar presented positive and promising results when substituted for cement and sand in the various concrete formulas. Future testing will consider a more detailed look into formulas for specific applications, as well as other ways of incorporating biochar in building materials.