Two scientists from the CSIC explain the possibilities of the remains of the volcano in the construction of houses that respect the environment
After 85 days of eruption and more than 159 million cubic meters of lava ejected) it is time to investigate what kind of use can be given to the lava ejected by the Cumbre Vieja volcano in La Palma.
As a result of a spontaneous collaboration, arising as a result of the underwater robotics work in which I participate, I have been able to analyze the chemical composition of this residue with the aim of determining possible uses for this material.
It seemed important to me to start with a physical-chemical characterization using the institute’s technologies as a first step towards a possible reuse. At the Institute of Micro and Nanotechnology (IMN-CNM-CSIC) we have developed an analysis using electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction techniques to obtain the morphology and chemical composition of lava, differentiating elements and quantifying their presence.
In the Micro and Nanofabrication Laboratory, the sample has been processed with two of the most advanced technologies available at the institute: the FEI Verios 460 scanning electron microscope (SEM), with which we have obtained the elements present in the sample, and the diffractometer of Bruker D8 Discover X-rays (XRD), with which the predominant compounds in the material have been determined.
With the SEM we managed to identify and quantify (from greater to lesser presence) the chemical elements (atoms of the same class) present in the lava. And in a second analysis, we crushed the lava to, through powder X-ray diffraction, identify the chemical compounds present.
Novelty in lava analysis
The IMN has the FEI Verios 460 scanning electron microscope, one of the most powerful in Europe, normally used for the analysis of oxides, metals and polymers at micro and nanometric scales. On this occasion, the analysis of this volcanic rock has been a novelty.
This microscope is so advanced that, despite being the insulating sample, it does not require any additional treatment, which allows us to obtain morphological information at the micro and nanometric scale without the gold coating that until now had to be deposited on insulating samples in conventional microscopes. . This has made it possible to eliminate the loading effects and observe the lava at the nanometric scale.
These results determine and contribute to the possible reuse of volcanic material (lava and ash) in real applications, as is the case of the company Red Verde, dedicated to the manufacture of ecological materials for bioconstruction, or TheKSFactory, focused on the reuse of waste mineral, forestry and marine in construction, industry and nautical.
We also participate with companies such as Nido Robotics, specialized in underwater drones manufactured in Spain, and the Andalusian company Andalú Sea, with which we locate, characterize and recycle biological materials for use in construction or other applications, as we have already done in the case of algae invasive red (ECO2-ALGAE project).
In addition, the Cabildo Insular de la Palma is already in collaboration with other CSIC centers, such as the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME-CSIC), the Institute of Geosciences (IGEO-UCM-CSIC) and the Spanish Institute of Oceanography ( IEO-CSIC) to search for possible uses for volcanic lava.
I end by emphasizing that these
results obtained with the micro and nano scale characterization of the lava from the Cumbre Vieja volcano, they are complementary to the petrography techniques used by geologists; thus putting in value nanotechnology as a useful transversal axis in all fields of science.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.