A new approach to more sustainable concrete with resource-based engineering

Climate goals are driving change

Until now, more sustainable types of concrete have not been used on a large scale, mainly because the application in concrete structures is complex: on the one hand, changes are taking place in the concrete that we have always known, and on the other hand, there are more and more more requirements, a construction must not only be safe and affordable, but also sustainable and circular.

The MIMO approach forms a node between data, models, and intelligent optimization software.

The New Approach: Resource-Based Engineering with MIMO

The new approach, entirely based on Multi-Criteria Design Optimization (MIMO), is a design approach for more sustainable concrete that helps make optimal decisions for multiple stakeholders: customers, companies contractors, demolition companies, recycling companies.

The MIMO approach forms a node between data, models, and intelligent optimization software. Information on locally available raw materials is central: ‘resource-based engineering’. For example, the material properties of elements or grains of concrete rubble, the data are determined. Furthermore, all the requirements are given simultaneously, such as minimizing the environmental impact and costs, but also maximizing safety, because we want safe concrete structures.

MIMO then processes the data using calculation models into design scenarios that optimally and measurably meet the various requirements at the same time. The user can now easily consider the best scenario based on wishes and planning.

Significant CO2 reduction through optimal use of secondary materials

Every year some 22 million tons of stone waste are released by demolition. At the moment, only 2 million tons of it are reused, while we produce 33 million tons of new concrete every year. TNO believes that MIMO can support the evaluation and optimal use of reuse and recycling of construction and demolition waste.

‘This flow represents more than half of today’s concrete production!’ says Siska Valcke of TNO, an expert in the field of circular concrete. ‘In optimizing reuse, also for CO2 reduction, two important strategies quickly become apparent thanks to MIMO: the complete reuse of existing concrete structure elements and the use of crushed masonry rubble would reduce between 0.75 and 1, 25 million tons of CO2 per year. ‘, explains Valcke.

Optimal use of more information for the sector

MIMO is in line with initiatives that the sector is already developing, such as new types of concrete with less cement, slimmer construction and removable construction. Parties can optimally weigh and combine different strategies for sustainability and circularity. The new approach is now being tested as a tool on a limited scale. This shows the benefits of the approach for the parties involved if it is used at different stages in decision making and design.

Builders can include the options and data of suppliers, demolition companies and recyclers in their design at an early stage to arrive at an optimal solution. Customers gain insight into solutions that measurably meet their requirements and can transparently compare with each other. Contractors and demolition companies gain measurable insight into the costs and benefits of smart decommissioning and material storage.

foundation laid

MIMO is configured in such a way that new design questions, requirements, data and models can be added and linked so that it can be implemented more widely step by step.

Siska Valcke: ‘Our approach offers the greatest value when cooperation in the concrete sector grows: companies, governments and knowledge institutions. So, MIMO can be a facilitator in the transition of the entire chain towards a more sustainable concrete. The foundations have been laid and from here we can start working together with the industry to transition to large-scale resource-based engineering on the path to more sustainable concrete.”

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