The University of Pennsylvania has been granted $2.4 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The funding is part of the ARPA-E HESTIA program, which works to overcome barriers associated with carbon-storing buildings, including scarce, expensive, and geographically limited building materials.

The University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with Texas A&M University, the City College of New York, KieranTimberlake, and Sika, will design carbon-negative, medium-sized building structures by developing a high-performance structural system for carbon absorption and storage over the lifespan of the building.

Source: KieranTimberlakeSource: KieranTimberlake

Using a novel carbon-absorbing concrete mixture as a building material, the team will design and assemble a high-performance structural system that minimizes mass and construction waste and maximizes surface area. The parts will be prefabricated using robotic 3D printing technology.

According to Shu Yang, chair of the materials science and engineering department in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, “Geometry is what makes our team’s designs unique, in both the printed structures and the formulation of the carbon-absorbing concrete.”

“The right geometry produces the efficiency of the structures by reducing the amount of material — concrete, in this case — used, and consequently carbon emissions,” said Mohammad Bolhassani, director of the Advanced Masonry Center at the Bernard & Anne Spitzer School of Architecture of the City College of New York.

The increased surface area of the novel concrete structure is beneficial for achieving comfort temperature ranges indoors through thermal mass heat storage. By combining natural ventilations strategies with the exposed concrete slab system, researchers hope to achieve a significant reduction in the operational energy of the building over the building’s life cycle.

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