London-Based Firm Creates New Sustainable Concrete

Cement is used to create just about everything around you. Unfortunately, this building material is traditionally not eco-friendly in its creation or disposal — but that could soon change.

Scientists at London-based Novacem believe they’ve developed a type of concrete that is actually good for the environment. This innovative version effectively absorbs large quantities of carbon dioxide as it hardens. In its recipe, the company uses magnesium sulphate, which requires significantly less heating than the traditional ingredients.

This groundbreaking form of cement is still in its early phases, but it could mean big things for the environment. A building material that absorbs carbon dioxide — instead of emitting it during production — could seriously lower the construction industry’s carbon footprint.

A Concrete Impact on the Environment

More than 4 billion tons of cement are produced each year, composing approximately 8% of global C02 emissions, according to according to the World Wildlife Fund. Despite its harmful affect on the environment, global cement production is expected to rise to more than 5 billion tons per year over the next 30 years.

In its report, “A Blueprint for a Climate Friendly Cement Industry,” the WWF suggested several ideas to make cement production more sustainable, including:

  • Improve the thermal efficiency of kilns. Ensure all new plants are built with the best possible technology.
  • Increase the share of biomass. Strive to ensure 40% of sustainable biomass is in kiln fuel by 2050.
  • Improve the electrical efficiency of plants. Use Waste Heat Recovery and very efficient equipment to reduce current plant electricity by two-thirds.
  • Develop Carbon Capture and Storage. Design new plants in a manner that allows an upgrade with CCS.

The WWF also made recommendations for a better use of cement, including:

  • Use cement more efficiently. Focus on the required function of a project, instead of automatically delivering a standard quantity of material. In some cases, this can reduce concrete consumption by more than 50%.
  • Expand the use of additives and substitutes to cement clinker. On a worldwide basis, most builders use Ordinary Portland Cement. However, alternatives to Portland cement can reduce carbon emissions by 20-80%.

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