Concrete is Playing a Part in Turning the Construction Industry Green

Concrete is Playing a Part in Turning the Construction Industry Green

26th June 2018

Over the past couple of years we’ve been publishing an intermittent series of articles on concrete, one of the most common materials on the planet today.  We’ve explained the difference between concrete and cement, we’ve looked at the history of concrete and how it was used by the Romans.  We’ve come across several innovative new types of concrete, including nano concrete, self-healing concrete, reinforced concrete and even concrete that glows in the dark! 

Our article on nano concrete was quite a scoop – it was published nearly three years ago and was still mostly in the developmental stage at the time, with researchers at MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose mission is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology and other areas of scholarship) studying the nanostructure of concrete when they made an exciting discovery that could result in lower carbon-dioxide emissions during cement and concrete production.

We’re pleased to announce that the news we brought you at that time is finally coming to fruition and nano concrete is now officially “a thing”.  A recent report in CNN’s tech section (which looks at new technology and cutting-edge materials) has revealed that a Canadian start-up has invented a new system of making concrete that traps CO2 emissions forever and whilst doing so, reduces the need for cement.

Basically, captured carbon is injected into the concrete as it’s being mixed and once the concrete has set, the carbon is trapped forever.  The carbon stays put even when buildings are demolished because it reacts with the concrete and becomes a mineral.  The mineral improves the compressive strength of the concrete which means that concrete producers can make concrete as strong as is necessary, using less cement in the process. 

A concrete producer in America who has been using this system for two years already claims it has already prevented 10 million pounds of CO2 emissions.  This is just from one concrete producer – imagine the benefit to the planet if all concrete were to be produced in this way!  Captured concrete is bought from fertiliser plants and its cost is more than offset with what is saved by using less cement, meaning that protecting the environment in this way still makes good business sense as it lowers production costs.  Using the carbon in concrete turns what would otherwise be an environmentally damaging waste product into an economically sound method of incentivising companies to capture their emissions to sell them and produces stronger concrete – this is a win-win situation all round.

As the construction industry journeys towards becoming a cleaner, greener sector, it’s producing all sorts of benefits of this type.  The construction industry is changing rapidly and this development is of interest to anybody working within our sector.  It’s good news for the environment, good news for concrete producers, good news for carbon emission producers (who can sell their waste instead of dumping it into their surrounding countryside) and good news for construction as an industry.

We’re always on the lookout for developments in materials, techniques, best practice, etc. so we can keep our readers fully informed on what’s happening at the cutting edge of construction.  Stay up to date with what’s going on in the world you work in by following us on Facebook or Twitter.