New Construction Material

A material that got its start in the Arizona desert is showing up in science journals with astounding reports that it could transform our buildings and infrastructure.

That’s because Ferrock has proved to be a tougher and more planet-friendly material than concrete.

It’s a story that started more than a decade ago at the University of Arizona when doctoral student David Stone won an innovation contest for his cement substitute made with waste steel dust. Stone was awarded a patent in 2013 for Ferrock, and he started Iron Shell to commercialize it, according to a university report.

For the material’s part, it is stronger than concrete by several metrics: 13.5% for compressive strength; 20% for split tensile strength; and 18% for flexural strength, all at 28 days, according to ScienceDirect.

I assume they used 28 days because that is the time it takes concrete to gain full compression strength. Concrete gains 1/2 strength in 7 days.

It’s made from steel dust that is usually thrown out and silica from pulverized glass. In fact, 95% of the materials that make Ferrock are recycled, making it a cost-friendly option. There’s also some impressive chemistry that happens when it hardens that pulls carbon dioxide from the air, reducing pollution, all per Certified Energy.

Pictures of Ferrock published by Certified Energy show slabs like bricks used for an apparent patio and a slurry form that hardens to make a wall. The report noted that small-scale projects are more feasible until large amounts of the waste steel can be reliably sourced.

Currently around 4 billion tons of concrete is produced each year which releases carbon dioxide into the air whilst also being created from generally unsustainable raw materials.


I wonder if its protective from an EMP since it’s made with steel…doc

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Is it porous? Will it rust?


On the other hand, how much will it interfere with cell phone signals? Or wi-fi or other radio waves?

  • Pete

The strength of ferrock is five times the concrete strength. It is commonly between 34.5 Mpa to 48 Mpa, and some ferrock tests reached 69 Mpa.

Ferrock has greater flexibility than conventional concrete. That is why it sustains movement and pressure without cracking.

  • Ferrock is suitable for marine-based projects because ferrock is relatively chemically inactive. Additionally, marine salt increases the strength of ferrock.*

Ferrock is resistant to oxidation, ultraviolet radiation, corrosion, chemicals, rotting, and rust, making it an exceptional material for constructing pipes and tubes.


Couldn’t have been invented by someone with a better name.

they say the Hoover Dam is still gaining strength


Concrete cores were removed from the dam for testing in 1995; they showed that “Hoover Dam’s concrete has continued to slowly gain strength”



Don’t take my word for it but as steel powder it would not. A Faraday cage needs to have the metal connected as in a wire mesh.

A Faraday cage is a container made of conducting material, such as wire mesh or metal plates, that shields what it encloses from external electric fields. In our experiments, a Faraday cage can be used to prevent external electromagnetic interference (EMI, or noise) from interfering with our neural recordings.

DIY Faraday Cage.

The Captain


The gains must be infinitesimal as concrete has 90+% strength in 28 days.

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Sounds like 28 is just one more magical number. Reductionist science, reduce the complexity of curing concrete to just one number.

The Captain

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Ferrock made the list in this article, 17 Alternatives to Common Building Materials (last updated: Oct 21, 2022) by Tom Scalisi, who reported:

If necessity is the mother of invention, consider scarcity and inflation the grandparents of throwing your hands in the air and saying “Well, what can I order?” In recent years, material shortages and volatile material prices have slowed so many projects to a grinding halt. As a result, contractors and property owners are increasingly considering alternatives to traditional building materials. And while these materials sometimes buck tradition, they’re often just as good — and sometimes even better.

We’ll take a look at some of these lesser-known building materials, how they’re used, and their pros and cons below. With some creativity from the designer, open-mindedness from the client, and approval from the building department, these alternative construction materials could open up a world of possibilities for your next project.

Concrete alternatives
• Fly ash
• Straw bales
• Rammed earth
• ByBlocks

Lumber alternatives

  • Steel framing
  • Structural steel
  • Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)
  • Concrete
  • Engineered wood
  • Other wood alternatives

Sheetrock alternatives

  • Veneers
  • Plaster and lath
  • 3D Panels

Insulation alternatives

  • Mineral wool
  • Spray foam
  • Cellulose
  • Rigid foam
  • Reflective insulation

Regarding ferrock, Tom Scalisi commented (my emphasis in bold):

Ferrock is an environmentally-friendly cementitious product made up of up to 95% recycled materials. This concrete substitute consists of recycled steel dust, iron-rich ferrous rock, and silica from recycled glass. When mixed with water, it forms a compound up to 5 times stronger than concrete, more flexible, and more resistant to oxidation and corrosion.

However, since it’s made from byproducts of niche industries, availability may be limited in some areas.


  • Made of recycled materials
  • Stronger and more flexible than concrete
  • Sets quickly and resists oxidation and corrosion

Limited material availability due to reliance on byproducts from other industries

Following the scenario above, with regard to lumber alternatives, I’d like to give a heads up about the Trex Company (NYSE: TREX), the world’s largest manufacturer of high-performance, low maintenance and eco-friendly wood-alternative decking and railing with more than 30 years of product experience.

Trex Residential decking is made in a proprietary process that combines reclaimed wood fibers and recycled polyethylene film, making Trex Residential one of the largest recyclers of waste polyethylene plastic film in North America.

Cabinet and flooring manufacturers are our preferred suppliers of reclaimed wood fiber because the reclaimed wood fiber produced by these operations contains little contamination and is low in moisture. These facilities generate reclaimed wood fiber as a byproduct of their manufacturing operations. In addition, we purchase scrap select wood chips generated from various farming operations.

The polyethylene we consume is primarily composed of scrap plastic film and plastic bags. We will continue to seek to meet our future needs for scrap polyethylene from the expansion of our existing supply sources and the development of new sources. We believe our use of multiple sources provides us with a cost advantage and facilitates an environmentally responsible approach to our procurement of polyethylene. Our ability to source and use a wide variety of polyethylene from third party distribution and manufacturing operations is important to our cost strategy.

Trex sells its products through wholesale distributors, retail lumber dealers, and Home Depot and Lowe’s stores, as well as through its direct sales staff, independent sales representatives, and bidding on projects

Stocked in more than 6,700 retail locations worldwide, Trex outdoor living products offer a wide range of style options with fewer ongoing maintenance requirements than wood, as well as a truly environmentally responsible choice.

Trex® Composite Deck Boards vs. Wood

The peace of mind that comes with Trex
• Won’t rot, split, splinter or crack
• Termite proof
• Available in a wide range of fade-resistant colors that will complement any home
• All the natural beauty of wood with none of the work


The hassles that come with wood (Redwood, Pressure-Treated Lumber and Cedar)
• Needs seasonal painting, staining or sealing
• Becomes a safety hazard when it rots, splits and splinters
• Fades and stains easily, showing every spill and scuff
• Insects can cause extensive structural damage
• Contributes to deforestation, cutting down trees that local wildlife depend on for food and shelter

Here’s an interesting DIY project by a Consumer Reports home editor on how he recently dealt with material shortages and higher prices as he searched for the best decking material.

Trex Composite Decking vs. Real Wood Decking: Which Is the Better Choice?(Published May 24, 2022 | Updated April 25, 2023)

Almost 6 years ago on 6/11/2018, as a TREX investor, I made an introductory heads up post about the Trex Company at Saul’s Investing Discussions board because it was a company operating in the black with a top-notch business plan, highly competent management, strong balance sheet, strong capital structure, and positive steady growth in ROIC, FCF, margins and revenue, among other considerations, that enabled the company to outperform the S&P 500 and other indices.

Since then, in spite of a year-long stock price pullback in 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic downturn, TREX realized a 147% increase in Market Cap from $3.8 billion in June 2018 to $9.4 billon today. TREX also realized a 2:1 stock split on 6/19/018 and and another 2:1 split on 9/15/2020.

Here’s the recent 5-year TREX performance vs. its two major retail outlets, i.e., Home Depot (HD) and Lowe’s (LOW), and the S&P 500 that shows a current upward trend for TREX.


Bottom-line: TREX is a solid company in my current diversified investments.



Harrumph. No mention of cork, a renewable, carbon negative, and easily processed alternative.