Concrete is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, but transforming it could be a green solution to cut carbon emissions.
In 2018, cement accounted for 7% of total global carbon dioxide emissions. As one of the most-used resources on the planet, this is not surprising. An estimated 26 billion tons of cement is produced every year on a global scale, and it is expected to continue increasing in the next coming years.
Various technologies were created to reinvent concrete to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Engineers in the infrastructure and construction industry have designed the next generation of concrete to reduce its carbon emission footprint and increase its durability.
This includes the carbon-infused cement mixes that lock up the greenhouse gas and can be stronger than the standard concrete. Scientists noted that this new concrete is even bendable.
Reinventing Concrete By Carbon to Cement Mixes
Concrete is primarily made up of rocks and sand, along with cement and water. About 80% of its carbon footprint comes from cement, so researchers find ways to reduce its carbon footprint.
Some alternatives for cement that are being used are iron slag and coal fly ash. While alternative binders include limestone calcined clay that can also be used to reduce the use of cement. A study shows that using limestone and calcinated clay reduces at least 20% carbon emissions while also cutting production costs.
But the main focus of researchers and companies is how they could utilize the captured carbon dioxide as an ingredient to the concrete and ultimately prevent it from entering the atmosphere.
Phys.org reported that carbon dioxide could be added in the form of aggregates by injecting them during the mixing. This process is called carbonation curing, or CO2 curing, which can also be used even after the concrete has been cast.
It turns the carbon dioxide from gas to a mineral that creates solid carbonates that can improve concrete strength, needing lesser cement and reducing carbon emissions. Some companies have already developed technologies to use these processes.
Researchers from the University of Michigan are working on composites to develop bendable concrete that will allow the construction of thinner, less brittle structures and require less steel reinforcement that effectively reduces carbon emissions.
The 61-story Kitahama tower in Osaka, Japan, and roadway bridge slabs in Ypsilanti, Michigan, has used this technology.
Moreover, bending concrete is appealing as it could be used to prevent earthquakes, ZME Science reported. These innovations are needed, especially on the crumbling federally managed infrastructures like roads.
The American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that the US would need to spend some $4.5 million by 2025 to fix the bridges, dams, roads, and other infrastructures, Business Insider reported.
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