We’re constantly being told to reduce sugar in our lives, yet it could be the foundation of a new building material offering a low-cost, low-carbon, reusable alternative to brick and concrete.
Architecture studio Grimshaw and the University of East London have collaborated to develop Sugarcrete, a biomaterial construction block with an interlocking shape made from the sugarcane by-product bagasse.
According to the Sugarcrete team, sugarcane is the world’s largest crop by production volume, with almost two billion tonnes produced yearly worldwide.
Of this, 600 million tonnes of fibrous bagasse is created as a by-product.
Bagasse was mixed with mineral binders to create the Sugarcrete material, which was designed to be four times lighter and have 15 to 20% of the carbon footprint of traditional bricks.
The material is also cheaper than concrete and its carbon emissions are 20 times lower, according to the team of researchers.
The Sugarcrete material is not only re-useable but has insulating properties and is fire-resistant. The project team suggested the material could be used for insulation panels, load-bearing walls, and structural floor and roof slabs.
The research behind Sugarcrete is publicly accessible with the hope that the material will be produced worldwide, particularly in communities where sugarcane is locally grown.
Nominated for the 2023 Earthshot Prize, the project team plans to further develop the Sugarcrete material, which has been trademarked.