Advanced Materials: Coloured Concrete
Published on 8 June 2021
We research advanced materials which can contribute to achieving the aims of the Circular economy and Net Zero with innovative technology applied in future manufacturing and construction industries
Coloured concrete samples (Credit - University of Dundee)
Advanced materials have new or improved structural or functional properties and have applications across a wide range of sectors, including telecommunications, electronics and pharmaceuticals, aerospace, automotive, security, and energy. We research advanced materials which can contribute to achieving the aims of the Circular economy and Net Zero with innovative technology applied in future manufacturing and construction industries. For example, our Concrete Technology and Structural Engineering Research Cluster has been focusing on sustainable concrete, including recycled aggregates, cement replacement and structural optimisation.
Concrete structures have long been able to astonish, but their future could be brighter still thanks to research conducted by Dr Moray Newlands and his team. Using toner powder recovered from old printer cartridges, the research aims to replicate colours within cement pastes and concretes in a move that could transform the look of urban environments and landmarks of the future.
Mixing cyan, yellow, magenta and black recovered toner powder (RTP), researchers found that it was possible to produce a range of colours within concrete and cement without affecting the integrity of the finished substance. Tests showed the coloured products to be resilient in both dry and wet environments, while the colouring also proved resistant to ultraviolet light, allowing it to retain its hue over time.
While there are coloured concretes on the market, the palette range is limited by production methods and the excessive cost of producing more distinctive colours, such as blue, which requires the use of cobalt. However, the Dundee team seek to achieve mass production using RTP at a significantly lower cost and allowing a far greater range of tints to be manufactured. Dr Moray Newlands said, “Toner powder is incredibly fine, but cannot be recycled into new cartridges as it becomes contaminated and changes size once it is involved in the printing process."
Dr Moray Newlands
As their work continues, Dr Newlands and his team have worked with Construction Scotland Innovation Centre and industry partners to determine the viability of taking the concept to market and the material is currently being trialled as part of the Macro Micro Zero Energy Lab building at the Botanic Gardens, University of Dundee.