24/7 Space News
Scientists say they can make zero-emission cement
Scientists say they can make zero-emission cement
By Nick Perry
Paris (AFP) May 22, 2024

Researchers on Wednesday said they were a step closer to solving one of the trickiest problems in tackling climate change -- how to keep making cement despite its enormous carbon footprint.

In a world first, engineers from Britain's University of Cambridge have shown that cement can be recycled without the same steep cost to the environment as making it from scratch.

Cement binds concrete together but the whitish powder is highly carbon-intensive to produce, with the sector generating more than triple the emissions of global air travel.

Demand for concrete -- already the most widely used construction material on Earth -- is soaring, but the notoriously polluting industry has struggled to produce it in a less harmful way to the climate.

The team at Cambridge believes it has a solution, pioneering a method that tweaks an existing process for steel manufacturing to produce recycled cement without the associated CO2 pollution.

This discovery, published in the journal Nature, could provoke "an absolutely massive change" by providing low-cost and low-emission cement at scale, said Julian Allwood, who co-authored the research.

"It is an extremely exciting project... I think it's going to have a huge impact," said Allwood, an expert on industrial emissions and key contributor to reports from the UN's scientific panel on climate change.

To produce cement, the basic ingredient in concrete, limestone must be fired in kilns at very high temperatures usually achieved by burning fossil fuels like coal.

On top of that, limestone produces significant additional CO2 when heated.

- 'Bright hope' -

The cement industry alone accounts for nearly eight percent of human-caused CO2 emissions -- more than any country except China and the United States.

Some 14 billion cubic metres of concrete are cast every year, according to industry figures, and more still will be needed as economies and cities grow in future.

The International Energy Agency says that if emissions from the cement industry continue to increase, a pledge of carbon neutrality by 2050 will almost certainly remain out of reach.

Many efforts to produce low-carbon or so-called "green cement" are too expensive or difficult to deploy at scale, rely on unproven technologies, or don't come near zero emissions.

The Cambridge researchers approached the problem by looking at an industry that was already well established -- steel recycling, which uses electric-powered furnaces to produce the alloy.

They substituted a key ingredient in that process with old cement sourced from demolished buildings, Allwood said.

Instead of waste being produced, the end result was recycled cement ready for use in concrete, bypassing the emissions-heavy process of superheating limestone in kilns.

This method -- which has a patent pending -- was "a very low disruption innovation" requiring little change or additional cost on the part of business, Allwood said.

If powered by renewable energy, he said, these furnaces could hope to produce zero-emission concrete at scale.

"Once the electricity has no emissions, then our process would have no emissions," Allwood said.

Countries could not hope to bring CO2 emissions to zero by 2050 -- the key pledge of the Paris climate agreement -- using concrete as it exists today, he added.

"This is the big bright hope, I think," Allwood said.

Related Links
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
Energy transition risks critical mineral shortage: IEA
Paris (AFP) May 17, 2024
The sharp drop in prices for minerals critical to the green energy transition is masking a looming shortage due to inadequate investment, the International Energy Agency said Friday. In its second annual review of the market for such critical materials, the IEA noted prices for minerals key for electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels fell back to pre-pandemic levels as supplies caught up with and surpassed demand. While the price drops are good news for consumers, the Paris-based agenc ... read more

UCF develops algorithms for space and sea exploration

NASA announces $6BN in contracts for Spacecraft Acquisition Services

Office of Space Commerce Extends TraCSS Project

Blue Origin flies thrill seekers to space, including oldest astronaut

Boeing Starliner crewed test flight delayed indefinitely

Russia jails hypersonic scientist for 14 years on treason charges

NASA and Sierra Space deliver Dream Chaser to Florida for launch

Ariane 6 will launch 3D Printing technology into space

Redwire to lead Mars imaging study for NASA

Astrobotic to conduct NASA JPL studies for Mars missions

NASA and ESA Collaborate on ExoMars Rosalind Franklin Rover

NASA, ESA will search for 'signs of life' on Mars

Zebrafish on China's space station reported to be in good condition

China sends experimental satellite into orbit with Long March 4C rocket

International Support for China's Chang'e-6 Lunar Mission

Shenzhou XVII astronauts safely back from Tiangong space station

SpacePNT validates its PNT technology in LEO orbit

Iridium-Connected Drones Receive FAA BVLOS Waiver

ATT and AST SpaceMobile Sign Agreement for Satellite Broadband Network

Future spacecraft control centre unveiled by ESA

Making steel with electricity

Amazon to invest 15.7 bn euros in Spain

HySpex chosen to supply hyperspectral camera for space mission

EU opens probe into Chinese imports of key amino acid

ASU researchers address methane mystery of exoplanet

NASA Tool Gets Ready to Image Faraway Planets

Webb reveals details of exoplanet's interior

Researchers Discover New Insights into Carbene Formation

NASA's Juno captures detailed images of Europa's surface

New Horizons expand research with unique observations

UAF scientist clarifies Jupiter's magnetospheric dynamics with new data

Webb telescope details weather patterns on distant exoplanet

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.