Researchers are using lightening to break down cement into its individual components - aggregate and cement stone - so it can be recycled in a closed loop, rather than being simply ground down and used in, for example, road sub-bases.
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute have revived a method developed by Russian scientists in the 1940s called electrodynamic fragmentation. The concrete is placed under water and subjected to a 150 nano-second bolt of lightning. This creates a pressure wave with a force comparable to a small explosion, which tears the concrete apart it into its basic components.
Researchers say that, in as little as two years’ time, an installation could be ready to launch on the market.