World first as pioneering new sustainable material is trialled at Manchester's Mayfield


Graphene-enhanced ‘Concretene’ can reduce concrete’s CO2 emissions by up to 30%


Manchester’s Mayfield regeneration scheme is making history today (12 October 2021) as the location of a pioneering piece of structural engineering, using a new, low-emissions concrete that has the potential to transform the global construction sector.


Concretene uses graphene – the revolutionary 2D material discovered in Manchester – to significantly improve the mechanical performance of concrete, allowing for reductions in the amount of material used and the need for steel reinforcement. This can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30% and drive down costs, meaning Concretene is both greener and cheaper for developers.


At Mayfield, it will be used to create a new 54x14-metre mezzanine floor, which will become a roller disco at the hugely popular Escape to Freight Island attraction within Depot Mayfield.  


The installation is the first ever commercial use of Concretene in a suspended slab and marks a huge step towards testing and developing it as a widely-used building material, allowing it to be used as a substitute for concrete on an industrial scale.


The Concretene pour builds on Manchester’s reputation as a city of world-leading innovations dating back to the Industrial Revolution, and reinforces Mayfield’s return to prominence in the city amid a £1.5bn regeneration project.


The material has been developed by the University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) and Nationwide Engineering, an innovative company co-founded by a former University of Manchester civil engineering graduate, Alex McDermott.  


Alex McDermott said:Today is a huge milestone for the team, as not only is this our first commercial use of Concretene, but also the first suspended slab as used in high rise developments”

“As world leaders in Graphene Enhanced Concrete technology, the interest from the international building industry has been beyond expectations, as looming legislation is forcing significant carbon reductions throughout construction.”

“Our partnership with the University has fast-tracked the development of Concretene, going from lab to product in 18 months.” added Nationwide Engineering co-founder Rob Hibberd.

Concretene has huge potential to address the construction industry’s need to lower emissions, by reducing the amount of concrete required in construction projects by as much as 30%. It also offers efficiency savings by slashing drying time from 28 days to just 12 hours.


James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester at the University, said: We’re delighted to play a part in this exciting project at Mayfield, showcasing how our research can translate into real-world outcomes for sustainability that can be adopted by business and make a major contribution to the city region’s ambitions for net-zero by 2038.


“This Manchester-based technology can also contribute to levelling up by positioning our region as a global R&D centre for sustainable materials for the construction industry – attracting investment, creating new businesses and offering high-wage jobs.”


Arlene van Bosch, Development Director, U+I, added: Our ambition is for Mayfield to become an exemplar sustainable neighbourhood, where people and planet come first. Innovations such as the use of Concretene are central to realising our vision – we want to push the boundaries of design and construction to create the most environmentally-friendly place possible.


“It’s been brilliant to collaborate with Nationwide Engineering, the GEIC and our partners at Broadwick Live and Escape to Freight Island, who are doing an amazing job of making Depot Mayfield the beating heart of Manchester’s cultural life.”

Simeon Aldred, Founder and Head of Strategy at Broadwick Live, added: “We’re proud to be in partnership with U+I and the wider Mayfield Partnership on the regeneration of the Mayfield area, as a central hub for the wider Manchester community.


“This new use of Concretene also allows us to do so in an efficient, economic and sustainable way.”


The pour of the suspended slab at Mayfield marks a significant step towards testing and developing Concretene as a widely-used building material, allowing it to be used as a substitute for concrete on an industrial scale.


Production of cement for concrete is one of the leading causes of global CO2 emissions, producing around 8% of total global emissions.


Amid ever-increasing global industrialisation, concrete is the most widely-used substance on Earth after water. Its environmental impact is high however, for every 1 tonne of cement, 1.25 tonnes of CO2 is produced. In context, global CO2 from cement production fills a space the size of London’s O2 Arena every 23 seconds.

Most commonly, graphene is a material extracted from graphite but it can be derived from many different products, including recycled plastics or biomass. This makes Concretene a game-changer in the race to lower the industry’s whole-life carbon footprint.


The use of graphene in concrete produces 6.3kg of CO2 per tonne of concrete – a 21.94kg reduction per tonne compared to traditional steel reinforcement. The total estimated reduction in CO2 emissions for this floor slab compared to a traditional concrete solution is 4,265kg.