Biochar as a Building Material

Monday, October 23, 2017 - 10:00am
3110 Etcheverry Hall
Dr. Kua Harn Wei

Associate Professor and Assistant Dean (Academic)

School of Design and Environment

National University of Singapore


A by-product of pyrolysis of biomass, biochar has been widely studied as a type of soil enhancement and even a replacement of carbon nanotubes in a wide range of applications, including as capacitors and sensors.


The Smart Materials Laboratory of the Department of Building, National University of Singapore, has been working on producing and studying a wide variety of sustainable building materials that utilize biochar as a key ingredient. For example, increase in strength and decrease in water absorption of mortar and concrete have been achieved by adding up to 2% wt of biochar that is produced from mixed wood wastes. Current efforts include the use of food waste as a viable feedstock for biochar that is used to enhance the performance of mortar, as well as using biochar as a mean of immobilizing special species of microbes that are capable of self-healing of cracks in concrete.


The aim of this seminar is to trigger more conversation and thinking on using biochar in a wider range of building materials and technology, including the use of biochar in additive manufacturing of building components.


Associate Professor Kua is the Assistant Dean (Academic) of the School of Design & Environment of the National University of Singapore. He is also the leader of the Smart Materials Laboratory of the Department of Building.


He obtained his PhD in Sustainable Building Technology and Policy from the Building Technology Program of MIT, where he also earned two Masters in Civil Engineering and Technology & Policy.


His key areas of research are life-cycle sustainability assessment and bio-based building materials. He has authored about 100 academic publications, and has won more than 50 international/national academic awards. He has also been invited by local and international organizations to deliver guest lectures and speeches on his research topics more than 50 times, including as a plenary speaker at the Forum for Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development (organized by the International Council for Science) at Rio+20. He consults for the Singapore Government on various environmental issues and has assisted several multi-national corporations to set up their corporate sustainability guidelines.


Hosted by: Assistant Professor Hayden Taylor, 6159 Etcheverry Hall, 510- 642-4901,