CONCRETE PRODUCTION: A HEAVY LOAD ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Unless you’re in the construction business, you probably don’t spend a lot of energy thinking about the state of the concrete industry. Did you know that it’s the most common product in the world, after water? Concrete is everywhere –sidewalks and parking structures, walls, floors, foundations. It’s lying on top of the most fertile layer of the earth, damaging the topsoil. The production of cement – the main ingredient in concrete – produces 5- 8% of man-made carbon emissions globally, depending on where you get your information. It creates the second largest source of carbon release after steel.
Approximately 88% of these carbon emissions are produced by making the cement itself, and production worldwide is expected to increase by 12 – 23% by 2050. Cement has to be heated at a very high temperature in order to calcinate limestone, making quick lime. The components that pollute are dust, carbon and dust oxides, and sulphur dioxide. For every ton of cement made, one ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) is released into the atmosphere.
For years, Direct Air Capture machines have been able to capture carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into biomass. Canada’s CarbonCure is recycling carbon dioxide and using it to make stronger and longer-lasting concrete. They say this type of technology can reduce the industry’s footprint by up to 15% by the year 2030.
Solidia Technologies, headquartered in New Jersey, produces a sustainable cement and cure concrete with CO2 instead of water. They claim their Solidia Concrete™ is “stronger, more durable and higher performing than traditional concrete products.” It also requires less water and energy to make, and cures in fewer than 24 hours. Dalmia Bharat and Ambuja Cement in India are groups that have access to better materials and newer, more efficient plants. Factoring in climate metrics, they are currently considered the best-performing cement companies.
A University of Exeter research team has developed a “green” concrete they claim is an “absolute game-changer,” twice as strong, and environmentally friendly. It looks like regular concrete, but microscopic flakes of graphene – one of the world’s strongest materials – have been added to the mixture. Because it’s stronger than ordinary concrete, less would be needed for construction. Composite concrete with graphene is four times more water resistant, which could help in flood zones. Its increased elasticity would benefit structures in earthquake-prone areas. It’s a good conductor of electricity, which some say could lead to energy storage applications.
Although researchers are making notable progress in improving efficiencies and reducing energy use within the concrete industry, they’ve got a long way to go. Cement production companies need to more than double carbon emissions reduction efforts, or face harsher regulations. They will not meet the Paris Agreement goals to mitigate the effects of climate change unless more aggressive steps are taken.
As the concrete industry embraces new production technologies, Ace Cutting will continue to lead the way in providing the highest-quality concrete cutting tools and masonry equipment. Call us at 888- 283-2597, or visit our website: Acecutting.com.