Researchers develop eco-friendly concrete in the UK :
A potentially sustainable new form of concrete has been recently created that might make it the most environmentally friendly type of building material.
Concrete in its traditional form is made from cement, mixed with a range of coarse aggregates such as gravel, limestone or granite, and some finer particle aggregates such as sand or fly ash.
These are mixed together with water, to form a quick-drying bonded structure, which can easily be manipulated into many forms such as the surface of roads, or driveways or footings for structures. It is the most commonly used building material in the world – some estimate that in the region of 7 cubic kilometers of concrete are manufactured each year, and that there already is 1 cubic meter of concrete for every human on earth.
A New Form of an Old Material
Scientists at a British concrete manufacturer, the London-based Novacem, claim to have developed a new form of concrete that effectively absorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide as it hardens. Novacem’s new version of concrete, uses a different raw material, magnesium, which requires much less heating. Novacem claims that each tonne of cement can absorb up to 0.6 tonnes of CO2. This is opposed to figures that claim that each tonne of old-style cement emits about 0.4 tonnes of CO2.
For any building material to actually absorb carbon rather than just emit it in its production, is really a breakthrough, though Novacem admits the material is still in its trial period. The consequences of having an environmentally friendly building material available and on the market for builders to use, and for architects and designers to insist on using in the design of buildings and roads, is immense, and a real development for a sector which has been very guilty of creating carbon emissions through building operations.
Novacem state that they estimate that there are around 10,000 billion tonnes of magnesium silicates available worldwide and that their process could use alternative byproducts as well that also contain forms of magnesium.
Novacem is so confident of the sustainable and carbon negative potential of this new product that they have initiated a 1.5 million pounds pilot plant project in the UK, to further research this new type of concrete, experiment with it and seek the necessary licenses to manufacture it. The product itself could be several years away from being available to the building public and the building trade in general, but it does have great potential and is eagerly awaited.
We look forward to these environment-friendly developments in building a greener and safer world for our generation next.