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Millions in funding for Leipzig carbon concrete research

More than just a resource-saving building material: HTWK Leipzig develops multifunctional, standardized components made of carbon concrete for residential and industrial buildings.

Prof. Tilo Heimbold (links) und Prof. Klaus Holschemacher mit einem Carbonbetongelege mit integriertem AS-Interface-Kabel im Carbonbetontechnikum der HTWK Leipzig (Foto: Maximilian Johnson/HTWK Leipzig) Prof. Tilo Heimbold (left) and Prof. Klaus Holschemacher with a carbon concrete layer with integrated AS-Interface cable in the Carbon Concrete Technology Center at HTWK Leipzig (Photo: Maximilian Johnson/HTWK Leipzig)
 

Carbon concrete can make an essential contribution to climate-friendly construction because, in contrast to the reinforced concrete commonly used to date, the new building material saves resources such as sand and cement and has a significantly better CO₂ balance. In addition, carbon concrete offers many starting points for modern construction. For example, heating and electrical installations can be integrated into walls made of carbon concrete. Scientists at the Leipzig University of Applied Sciences (HTWK Leipzig) are testing how such applications can be transferred to industry in two new research projects together with practical partners.

Multifunctional sample components to become industry standard

Sample components made of carbon concrete that are connected to various thermal systems are to be developed by an alliance of 15 partners from Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt as part of the "Industrial Standard Carbon Concrete (ISC)" project. Among them is the Research and Transfer Center (FTZ), affiliated with HTWK Leipzig, which has been an important link between the university and regional industry since its foundation 25 years ago.

The FTZ scientists are developing elements for integrated wall and panel heating systems. "Various prerequisites must be met for thermal systems to be integrated into building components. The electrical use of carbon is new and neither normed nor standardized. There is no experience in this regard, and this now needs to be explored in a wide variety of applications," says Tilo Heimbold, an electrical engineering professor at HTWK Leipzig and scientific director of the FTZ. In addition, the FTZ researchers are analyzing the energy balance and safety of all sample elements produced in the project. They are developing standardized and automated manufacturing processes for the components, testing their electromagnetic compatibility in the FTZ's own EMC center, and compiling the findings in a set of technical rules.

ZThe aim of the three-year research project is to develop an industry standard for semi-finished components made of carbon concrete. This is intended to accelerate the transition to carbon concrete construction. To implement this, the alliance has been receiving around eight million euros in funding from the German Federal Ministry of Research since January 2022 under the "Rubin" innovation and structural change program. Around 840,000 euros are allocated to the FTZ.

Components with integrated data communication standard AS-Interface

In another new research project, researchers at HTWK Leipzig are integrating electrical and data technology based on the AS-Interface industrial communication standard into carbon concrete components. Houses made of carbon concrete have very narrow walls, so there is not much room for the numerous installation cables that would otherwise be installed in them. Cables, cable ducts, and control boxes should therefore be reduced in size already during the construction and installation phase.

"Through AS-Interface, numerous sensors and actuators communicate with each other via the same cable. They even draw their required power via this cable. This saves materials and makes the system extremely robust and fail-safe," explains project manager Heimbold, who has been helping to develop AS-Interface for around 30 years. Today, the technology is used millions of times worldwide and enables automated processes in airports, factories, and buildings. Heimbold: "AS-Interface is mainly used in industry. In our research project, we now want to make the benefits of the technology available for residential and office buildings as well." Prefabricated parts for an office wall element are therefore to be produced as an example.

 
In den neuen Forschungsprojekten der HTWK Leipzig entstehen exemplarisch Fertigteile aus Carbonbeton, wie hier für ein Büro-Wandelement mit integrierter Elektroinstallation (Bild: Tobias Rudloff/HTWK Leipzig). In the new research projects at HTWK Leipzig, prefabricated parts made of carbon concrete are produced as examples, such as here for an office wall element with integrated electrical installation (Photo: Tobias Rudloff/HTWK Leipzig).
These are produced in the new carbon concrete pilot plant at HTWK Leipzig. Concrete construction professor Klaus Holschemacher explains: "We have been researching the new building material carbon concrete for years. In our new experimental hall, we are demonstrating the fully automated production of carbon concrete components on a model scale."

For the "WallConnect" project, the German Federal Ministry of Economics provides a total budget of around 1.5 million euros from the "Lightweight Construction" technology transfer program until spring 2024. HTWK Leipzig provides one third.

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