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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, THE
Doing Business As Name:University of Colorado at Boulder
PD/PI:
  • Wil V Srubar III
  • (303) 492-6382
  • wsrubar@colorado.edu
Award Date:01/16/2020
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 500,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 500,000
  • FY 2020=$500,000
Start Date:08/01/2020
End Date:07/31/2025
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:CAREER: Biological Production of Carbonates for Sustainable Cementitious Materials
Federal Award ID Number:1943554
DUNS ID:007431505
Parent DUNS ID:007431505
Program:ECI-Engineering for Civil Infr
Program Officer:
  • Caglar Oskay
  • (703) 292-7774
  • coskay@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:3100 Marine Street, Room 481
City:Boulder
State:CO
ZIP:80303-1058
County:Boulder
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Colorado Boulder
Street:3100 Marine St 572 UCB
City:Boulder
State:CO
ZIP:80303-1058
County:Boulder
Country:US
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

This Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant will leverage biological processes to create functional carbon-storing minerals for use in cement and concrete. Concrete is the second-most consumed material on earth after water. Its production, use, and disposal therefore have global environmental consequences. The production of cement alone accounts for 2.2 billion tons—or 6%—of global carbon dioxide emissions. Given that global demand for mineral aggregates for concrete materials exceeds 50 billion tons per year, a grand opportunity exists to leverage biological processes to produce carbon-storing minerals for use in cement paste, mortar, and concrete. This research project will exploit biological mechanisms of microbial-induced calcium carbonate precipitation to produce carbon-storing nano- and microscale minerals and will study their effect on properties of concrete. The research will be complemented by education and mentoring activities designed to educate the public on the benefits of low-carbon construction, while cultivating a new, inclusive, and diverse generation of interdisciplinary materials scientists and civil engineers. The specific research goal of this project is to use genetically engineered bacteria and other photosynthetic microorganisms to produce biologically precipitated calcium carbonate nanoparticles with distinct morphological architectures. Morphologies and nanomechanical properties of carbonates produced by engineered bacteria strains will be compared to those produced by native carbonate-producing strains. The carbon storage potential of carbonates produced by each strain will be quantified and compared using process-based life cycle assessment. Finally, structure-property relationships of biogenic carbonate nanoparticle additions on both fresh- and hardened-state properties of cement paste will be investigated to inform engineering specifications for biomineral use in cement paste, mortar, and concrete. The education goals of this project are (1) to mentor a new, diverse generation of materials scientists in a Living Materials Laboratory experience that will foster the creation of a new discipline at the intersection of synthetic biology and civil engineering; (2) to disseminate benefits of biological building materials by hosting a Carbon-Smart Building Materials Summit; and (3) to create graduate school pathways for lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender engineering students by engaging and mentoring them in interdisciplinary materials science research. This project will lay the scientific foundation for the PI to achieve his long-term career goals of transforming the built environment from a carbon emitter into a carbon sink, while broadening the diversity, inclusion, education, and training of next-generation materials scientists and civil engineers. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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