Pat Shingleton for Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Water is the most widely used material and second on the list is concrete. Concrete cannot be fully recycled; however a resurrected solution includes the use of lightning. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Holzkirchen, Germany, have revived a method, developed by Russian scientists in the 1940s, called electrodynamic fragmentation. The problem with recycling concrete is breaking down cement, water and aggregate or the mixture of stone particles, consisting of gravel and limestone grit. The team placed concrete in water and blasted it with a 150-nanosecond bolt of lightning. The bolt ran through solid material, creating a small explosion, tearing apart and breaking down its components. The fragmentation plant can process one ton of concrete waste per hour with larger volumes expected in the future. Fastcast: Still muggy.