Concrete is one of the most widely used materials in the world, but it also has a significant environmental impact. Concrete production is responsible for about 8% of global carbon emissions, making it one of the most polluting industries.
However, researchers are working on a new way to make more environmentally friendly concrete. The researchers, from Imperial College London have developed a method to produce carbon-neutral concrete.
The new method combines carbon capture and storage (CCS) and silica derived from a common mineral called olivine. CCS involves capturing carbon dioxide from industrial emissions and storing it underground.
The researchers have found that they can use CCS to capture the carbon dioxide produced during cement production. The carbon is then mixed with silica or magnesium to make magnesium carbonate, an alternative to clay bricks and gypsum boards.
The resulting concrete is still strong and durable but has a much lower carbon footprint. The researchers estimate that their new method could reduce the carbon emissions from concrete production by up to 90%.
Concrete from water desalination waste
Another promising approach from the UAE is to use magnesium-rich brine, a byproduct of seawater desalination, as a substitute for cement.
Brine is a salty liquid that is typically pumped back into the ocean after it is used to desalinate seawater. However, the brine can also be used to produce magnesium oxide, which can also be used to make concrete.
While the idea is still at the proof-of-concept stage, it shows promise in cutting emissions from the construction industry.
Magnesium-rich concrete has several advantages over traditional concrete. It is stronger, more durable, and more resistant to fire. It also releases less carbon dioxide during production.
Cutting carbon from the construction industry
Developing carbon-neutral concrete is a significant step forward in the fight against climate change. Concrete is a vital construction material, and the ability to produce it without emitting greenhouse gases could have a major impact on the environment.
The researchers are still in the early stages of developing their new method but hope it will be commercially available in the next few years. If successful, carbon-neutral concrete could make the construction industry more sustainable and help to reduce our impact on the planet.
In addition to the environmental benefits, carbon-neutral concrete could also have several other advantages. For example, it could be more resistant to damage from extreme weather events, such as floods and hurricanes. It could also be more durable and last longer, saving money in the long run.
The development of carbon-neutral concrete is a promising new technology that could significantly impact the construction industry and the environment. It is still in the early stages of development, but the potential benefits are significant. If successful, carbon-neutral concrete could help make our world more sustainable.
What more can be done?
There are several things we can do to cut carbon from the construction industry, including:
- Using more sustainable materials: The production of many construction materials, such as concrete and steel, is energy-intensive and produces greenhouse gases. Switching to more sustainable materials, such as timber and recycled materials, can reduce the carbon footprint in construction.
- Improving energy efficiency: Buildings account for about 40% of global energy consumption. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings can reduce their carbon emissions. This can be done by using more efficient heating and cooling systems, installing insulation, and using energy-efficient lighting.
- Using renewable energy: Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, can power construction sites and buildings. This can help to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels and their emissions.
- Changing construction practices: Some construction practices can be altered to reduce carbon emissions. For example, using prefabricated components can reduce the amount of waste on construction sites.
- Educating the workforce: The construction workforce needs to be educated about the importance of reducing carbon emissions. This can help ensure they use sustainable practices and materials on construction sites.
Developing carbon-neutral concrete is a promising step toward a more sustainable future. By reducing the carbon footprint of concrete, we can help to mitigate climate change and create a more sustainable built environment.
The development of carbon-neutral concrete is still in its early stages, but it can potentially revolutionize the construction industry. If it is successful, it could make concrete a more sustainable and environmentally friendly building material.