BasFlair: Sustainable concrete from volcanic fibres

Concrete is a sought-after building material - cement is an essential component of concrete and is one of the leading climate killers. Cement production is responsible for six to nine per cent of man-made CO2 emissions. It is therefore all the more important to develop climate-friendly building materials. The BasFlair project from the Institute of Textile Technology (ITA) at RWTH Aachen University is currently researching a textile concrete made of basalt fibres.

Textile concrete is usually made of glass or carbon fibres, which increase the tensile strength of the otherwise brittle concrete. Since textile concrete is thinner and lighter while having even higher load capacity, transport costs and CO2 emissions are reduced. Further advantages are its higher corrosion resistance compared to conventional concrete and its malleability.

Engine for progress:

  • Reduced use of cement by 70 per cent compared to reinforced concrete
  • Use of renewable raw material (basalt) for reinforcement
  • Versatile application and malleability
  • More cost effective than other types of textile reinforced concrete
  • Good heat resistance

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Photo: Fa. informbeton, Schwepnitz

“Fire Blossom” design

The BasFlair project now replaces the standard market glass and carbon fibres with basalt fibres from volcanic rock. Volcanoes annually provide around 1 km³ of new basalt worldwide – the material is therefore renewable. Basalt fibres are manufactured directly from natural rocks and are cost-effective at approximately 3 €/kg. The basalt fibres are thermally and chemically very durable. Through the use of the so-called textile concrete, the component thickness is reduced by up to 75 per cent – while maintaining the same level of quality. Another advantage contributing to the spread of this still new class of materials is its very good temperature resistance.   

Basalt concrete fire pits

New fields of application arise from the higher temperature resistance, for example, the construction of fire pits. The project participants plan to construct a dynamically and aesthetically designed fire pit as their show-piece in a public area to convince everyone of the new material. This publicly accessible fire pit, also known as “Fire Blossom”, should become available in Aachen during the course of 2017.

Photo: Andreas Koch

 “Basalt fibres can significantly expand the scope of application of the innovative composite material that is textile concrete. The main arguments are the low price (3 €/kg) and sustainability through the use of a renewable material.” Andreas Koch, Department Head of Textile Construction (Textiles Bauen) at the Institute of Textile Technology (ITA) at RWTH Aachen University

Partners and sponsors

  • Institut für Textiltechnik der RWTH Aachen
  • Institut für Bauforschung der RWTH Aachen (IBAC)
  • Incotelogy GmbH (INC)
  • Informbeton - Herbert Johne GmbH & Co. KG (INBE)
  • Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (BmWi)