Abeo thinks BIG for its superlight structures

For a company which has only been in existence since June this year, Danish startup Abeo has been racking up the awards for rethinking an everyday construction material — concrete.

The company just won the Cleantech Open Globals Ideas competition. It was also recently chosen as one of the Nordic region’s top 10 startups by the Nordic Venture Forum. Abeo’s technology will be used in a new building from BIG, the architecture firm of rock-star architect Bjarke Ingels .

So what’s all the fuss about? Abeo is licensing a new method of constructing concrete buildings which can reduce cost and Co2 emissions by up to 50 percent. The company calls such buildings super-light structures. The super-light structure technique was invented by a Danish professor called Kristian Hertz and first published in the delightfully named “Magazine of Concrete Research” in 2009.

Most modern buildings are constructed using heavy concrete and steel reinforcement. Super-light structures use a skeleton of medium to high strength concrete and a stabilizing outer layer of lightweight concrete. The strong concrete is load-bearing. The lightweight concrete creates the outer shape and while stabilizing and protecting against impact and fire. Because lightweight concrete weighs 3 to 5 times less than ordinary concrete, it reduces the total weight of the concrete structure by approximately 50 percent.

The usage of concrete has a major environmental impact. According to a report from Lux Research, cement production consumes roughly 3 percent of the world’s primary energy, including nearly 10 percent of the primary energy used for global industry. In total, cement production accounts for roughly 6 percent of global carbon emissions.

Based on super-light structures, Abeo offers another technique called pearl-chain reinforcement that enables easy and fast construction of curved shapes without the use of scaffolding. The reason that most modern buildings are square or rectangular is because current construction is so costly and time-consuming.