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UAE architects make cement from salt



UAE architects make cement from salt

The Dubai-based architect duo is trying to break away from conventional building practices with alternative cement contained in the UAE salt plains and made using problematic waste materials.

Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto, lead architects at wow, requested scientific knowledge from universities in the UAE and Japan to make cement made using salt water produced by UAE desalination plants, which remove salt from seawater.

They were inspired by UAE’s mineral-rich sabkha – the salt flats that are part of the country’s wetlands. “This is a large area … which is often overlooked,” Al Awar told CNN.

Sabkha has been used in architecture before: centuries ago, beams were carved from the salt flats and used to build Shiva, a medieval city in Egypt that is close to the Libyan border. But instead of mining the subtle sabkha ecosystem, Al Awar and Kenichi turned to salted wastewater, which contains many of the same minerals.

The ancient fortress of Shali in Shiva Oasis, Egypt. Credit: BOISONCLE CRIS / AFP / AFP via Getty Images

The rare freshwater UAE has one of the largest desalination operations in the world. It produces around one fifth of the world’s saltwater as a by-product – around 28 million cubic meters per day, according to one 2019 report supported by the United Nations. But throwing saltwater into the sea can endanger marine life. Finding uses for desalination brine has become a national focus, prompting the launch of 3.4 million AED ($ 930,000) “Rethink the Saltwater Challenge“earlier this year.

Brine contains magnesium minerals. Kemal Celik, assistant professor of civil and urban engineering at New York University in Abu Dhabi and part of the team at the university’s AMBER Lab, extracted magnesium compounds from liquids, and used them to make cement.

Celik said the cement was put into a block, which was then placed in a carbon dioxide chamber to regulate – an innovation that accelerated the production process. Cement was subjected to testing in the UAE before being sent to Japan, where the block passed further strength and stiffness tests. In addition, an algorithm was developed to calculate how safe a block is when used in construction, Mika Araki, a structural designer at the University of Tokyo, told CNN.

The precast block can be used to build a one-story building “tomorrow,” Al Awar said, but he and Kenichi hope to develop further products for use in multi-storey buildings.

Al Awar claims their magnesium-based cement can “work on a par with Portland cement,” which uses calcium carbonate as a raw material and is the most commonly used cement in concrete manufacturing.

However, magnesium cement has limitations. As a salt-based product, it can be corroded for steel reinforcement, he said, although reinforcement with other materials is possible.

Salt water-based cement precast blocks made by Al Awar, Kenichi and their academic collaborators.

Salt water-based cement precast blocks made by Al Awar, Kenichi and their academic collaborators. Credit: Sahil Abdul Latheef / waiwai

Professor John Provis is the deputy head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Sheffield University in England, and is not affiliated with the project. He said salt-based cement was “a very good idea,” explaining globally only one third of the cement used in reinforced concrete.

“This salt water hurts to be thrown out,” he added. “They take local trash and do cool things with it. I think it’s a very good synergy there.”

Al Awar said that he and Kenichi were motivated by a desire to build a more sustainable and environmentally friendly architecture. “Given the CO2 emissions in the world and global warming, and all these alarms that have been ringing for years, it is our duty – it is our responsibility – to take action,” he said.

Cement production is often energy intensive and have a large carbon footprint. According to the International Energy Agency, the cement sector is the third largest industrial energy consumer in the world and is responsible for it 7% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Celik said building a carbon footprint of magnesium cement is part of an ongoing life cycle study, which will compare it with ordinary Portland cement and other materials.
Kenichi Teramoto and Wael Al Awar, co-curators of the UAE National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture.

Kenichi Teramoto and Wael Al Awar, co-curators of the UAE National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. Credit: Courtesy of the UAE National Pavilion

In May 2021, Al Awar and Kenichi will lead the UAE National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, where alternative cement will be displayed at their “Wetland” exhibition. The pavilion will be made of magnesium-based cement, although Celik said the cement will not be based on salt water because it is not ready to increase production.

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“The research is still early,” said Al Awar. “It must go through a natural process of trial and trial and error to get a place. But we are very optimistic.”

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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