For years Syrians have endured the impacts of devastating war and, more recently, the February earthquake that shook Turkey and Syria, reducing many buildings to a crumpled mess.
Now a practical building solution developed amongst the twisted remains is giving locals hope for a better tomorrow as engineers prepare for rebuilding to begin. An international team including experts from Sheffield University and Middle East Technical University have collaborated to examine the feasibility of using 50% rubble to produce recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) strong enough to replace raw materials.
During the study, rubble from Syrian buildings in five rural and five urban sites was taken and reviewed for potential application in construction. The material was analysed to assess its chemical and physical makeup, processed and used as input into cement mix that was performance tested. The study was able to provide evidence for the first time that RCA made from materials excavated from collapsed Syrian buildings could be immediately utilised as a sustainable additive to concrete without downgrading the concrete’s performance.
With more than 130,000 buildings destroyed across Syria, the positive findings from the research are expected to offer many displaced refugees returning home once the war is over with an efficient and cheaper building option. With so much rubble available, the material will offer builders a ready source for constructing new buildings, while also reducing transport costs and additional resource extraction associated with using only virgin materials. Reusing rubble will offer a cheap, sustainable method to manage building waste, preventing it becoming a source of pollution and reducing overall carbon emissions.
With other countries impacted by war, natural disasters and growing building waste, the technique will help provide an economical roadmap to better manage resources as they rebuild.
“It is envisaged that using these methods to help rebuild Syria could create the foundation for it to become a technological hub for green and circular materials and construction solutions in the region into the future. All the more important given the devastating earthquakes that have struck both Turkey and Syria,” said Kate Robertson, Cara Middle East/Syria Programme Adviser.
In the midst of the devastation wrought by war and natural disasters, Syrian engineers (with assistance from international partners) have successfully created a viable sustainable building solution that is strong and resilient, just like their spirit.
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