A unique bio-concrete earned new GeoEngineers employee Amin Azimi a gold medal at the Seoul International Invention Fair (SIIF) earlier this month. Amin’s academic background at Louisiana Tech University and the University of Technology Malaysia led him to develop a number of innovative technologies and products, and over the years he has showcased them in more than 20 invention fairs like SIIF. Amin’s latest entry was a bio-concrete concept called CONC+PLUS that does more than just support structures—it consumes atmospheric CO2 to generate oxygen and electricity.
Bacteria are the secret sauce behind this capability. About ten years ago, Amin began studying a bacterium found in the Malaysian soil near his university. It consumed carbon dioxide for food and produced alcohols and oxygen as byproducts. Seeing the potential in this capability, Amin started culturing the bacteria to improve its efficiency. Then, he designed concrete blocks that could house bacterial colonies and collect the alcohol it produced. Combined with an existing battery technology, the alcohol can be turned directly into electricity. Amin imagines urban buildings built entirely out of bio-concrete, where the walls themselves are mitigating pollution by turning CO2 into oxygen and free electricity.
“This bio-concrete can solve a lot of sustainability and durability problems,” Amin says, “and that’s very needed right now.”
Throughout his career, Amin has participated in invention fairs like SIIF all over the world, including Malaysia, Singapore, Canada and the U.S., often receiving recognition for his innovative structural products. An internal GeoEngineers group is exploring how GeoEngineers might use some of these products to better serve our clients. For example, Amin designed a drone management software system that can be used to quickly survey a region during geological evaluations or even disaster response.
SIIF is the largest annual invention fair in the world, and this year it attracted more than 600 inventors from 27 countries. Presenting CONC+PLUS at SIIF 2021 brought extra challenges. Amin participated remotely due to COVID-19 concerns. Not only did he need to explain his bio-concrete to a panel of judges with mixed backgrounds, he had to do it over a video call from 6,000 years away.
“I tried to simplify the language and make it understandable for every background,” Amin says. “I guess it worked, because a medal is on its way!”