Dr David Stone works on a small domed building made with Ferrock, a material he has been developing as an alternative to Portland cement
Dr David Stone works on a small domed building made with Ferrock, a material he has been developing as an alternative to Portland cement

Collaborative venture between Iron Shell LLC of US and VIT Chennai

ANI | Updated: Dec 24, 2020 13:44 IST

New Delhi [India], December 24 (ANI/SRV Media): A new green alternative to Portland cement will be studied and developed in the Concrete Technology and Structures Laboratory at VIT Chennai.
The innovative cement is called Ferrock because it is an iron-based material and becomes hard like a rock when it reacts with carbon dioxide. This greenhouse gas is trapped in the material making it "carbon negative." In contrast, the manufacture of Portland cement is a huge source of CO2 and contributes about 8 per cent to the total global output.
Ferrock is a product of Iron Shell Material Technologies, an entrepreneurial startup company based in Tucson, in the state of Arizona in the US. Now the further development of this innovative product for commercial use will happen here in India.
The project will be based at the Concrete Laboratory of School of Civil Engineering at VIT Chennai and will be led by Dr Shanmugasundaram M and Dr Karthiyaini S. They are the main collaborators and coordinating researchers working directly with Dr David Stone, the founder of Iron Shell LLC.
The project will be overseen by Dr. K Muthumani, Dean of School of Civil Engineering and Dr. R Sivakumar, Dean of School of Mechanical Engineering and it will be administered by Dr V S Kanchana Bhaaskaran, Pro-Vice Chancellor, VIT Chennai. They were instrumental in setting up the MoU required for such a venture and will continue to guide its development through the many stages leading toward success.

The Ferrock project will initially provide research opportunities for the Civil engineering students at VIT and later will create employment for them and others as engineers and technologists when the material technology is eventually transferred into commercial production.

All of the collaborators agree that India provides both the best industrial environment for the development of Ferrock production as well as the most conducive market for its commercialization. Because Ferrock is iron-based its large-scale production depends on the steel industry rather than traditional cement manufacture, for which limestone is the main ingredient.
India has become a major player in both industries and is now in a solid position to take the next step into green and sustainable technologies. This trans-national project is another example of how India is bringing its unique capabilities to the global effort to reduce carbon emissions.
VIT Chennai has been one of the leading centers for national research and development but is also increasingly combining their expertise with other leaders in science and technology from around the world. The Ferrock Project is a prime example. In fact, there was strong India-US collaboration on Ferrock even before it came here.
Also on the early team was Dr Narayanan Neithalath, a world-renowned authority on cementitious materials originally from Kerala and now a Professor of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University. His former graduate student who worked on Ferrock, Dr Sumanta Das, is from West Bengal and is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Rhode Island where he directs the Multiscale and Multiphysics Mechanics of Materials Research Laboratory.
Dr David Stone, the inventor of Ferrock, said he is not interested in any special status for himself. "I just played a role in its development and now it must become a team effort," he said. "The material must be more fully developed and optimized just as all materials are continually improved. I am very excited to be working on this next stage with my colleagues at VIT Chennai and look forward to helping bring this new material technology to the point where it can be utilized in India and later around the world. It is important that we all work together in meeting the global challenge of reducing our carbon emissions in response to the global threat of climate change."

Dr Stone first became aware of the work of Dr Shanmugasudaram M at VIT Chennai when he came across one of his research papers on Ferrock. Though Dr Shanmugasundaram had become familiar with Ferrock from information found on websites he had not yet made the connection with Dr Stone. So, their mutual interests in new cementitious materials brought them together from opposite sides of the planet.
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