Fantasy literature imagines super-durable alloys and materials to construct its sceneries, weapons or the powers of its characters: adamantium, carbonadium, ilium 349… For now, and apparently will be for a long time, these scientific marvels belong just to the realm of science-fiction. Luckily, we don’t have to look so far in order to find an amazing construction material which is indeed present all over the Spanish coastline in large quantities: mussel shells.
That is what a group of researchers at the University of La Coruña (Universidade da Coruña, UDC), composed of members from departments of the Escola de Camiños of Elvina and the Higher Polytechnic School of Ferrol, have been trying to demonstrate for over two years: the insulating and sustainable properties offered by the valves of these molluscs which, according to their results, could make mussel shell-based construction not just a hypothetical achievement anymore.
This team of scientists had a purpose in mind: bringing together a sustainable construction system and mussel shells, an abundant residue very familiar to the Galicians. That is why they created the Biovalvo project. A building constructed with this material is the cornerstone of their research and the symbol of this increasingly promising initiative. The house, located in Mariñeiros, features walls, floor and roof using up to 75% shell material in their composition instead of quarry sand, while other materials low in CO₂ emissions, such as clay or lime, replace cement to bind the mixture.
Since its construction, the short-term output of the project regarding resistance capacity and wall insulation seems to have been very satisfactory. Researchers are currently focused on monitoring long-term behaviour and the aging process of these mortars.
How do they do it? By bringing the material under extreme environmental temperatures, high and low, and significant humidity levels, in order to try and calculate through a series of sensors the amount of shells needed for the structure to become completely resistant and durable.
This experience, should the market be willing to accept its integration, will provide sustainability to a highly polluting industry, since it’s one of the smartest and most innovative ways to offload a product that provides a lot of joy to Galician cuisine, but also serious headache to public Administration due to the amount of residue it generates.
Source: La voz de Galicia
Image: La voz de Galicia