How UAE Architects make Cement out of Salt?

A group of architects and researchers of UAE initiated a green technology to develop cement from one of widely available resources and waste material in UAE, called the brine. The cement derived from brine is a magnesium based cement, which is a old cement material used even before the invention of Ordinary Portland Cement.

Lets move in detail what this real initiate make UAE appreciable.

Converting Desalination Waste to Cement


UAE produces roughly 1/5th of the world's largest brine as by-product from the desalination plant. The country meets the need for fresh water by means of purifying and desalinating salt water that are found widely in UAE. 
Their study actually started from the salt flats that are present in large amount in wetlands of UAE. Sarkha was an old material used in constructing building in old period in Egypt.

Note : Salt Flats are flat expanses of the ground that is covered with salt and other minerals that shine under the sun. They are mainly found in desserts and wetlands.

Uyuni Salt Flat | salt flat, Bolivia | Britannica
Salt Flats

The two main materials used in the research to convert to cement are:
  • Sabhka or Salt Flat
  • The Brine 
The study was more focused on brine, as collecting sabka had some limitations. They found brine to be rich in minerals. They extracted magnesium compounds from the brine and was used in the manufacture of magnesium based cement. The test specimen was a cement block made out of magnesia-based cement and was cured in Carbon-di-oxide curing process. This curing process speed up the strength gain. The sample was tested for compression.
The magnesia -based cement uses magnesia as raw material, while the normally used ordinary Portland cement make use of calcium carbonate as raw ingredient.

Features of Cement from Salt

  • Make the reinforcement more prone to corrosion. Hence use of non-corroding reinforcing material works better.
  • Best applied as cement blocks
  • Cement made out of magnesia emits less carbon-di-oxide
  • Magnesia-based cement is a sustainable and green building material
  • Magnesium-based cements  have a natural affinity for cellulose materials, such as plant fibers or wood chips; Portland cement repels cellulose. Hence, wood chips as an aggregate to achieve lighter weight and more insulation products. 
  • Magnesium-based cements do not conduct electricity, nor heat and cold, and hence used for flooring for radar stations and hospital operating rooms.

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