New cement set to help building sustainability and even produce fizzy drinks

4 years ago
1 minutes

Australia is a world leader when it comes to sustainable building, but that hasn’t stopped the manufacturing of cement making up eight per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

This country’s challenging climate necessitates sustainable design and wide-scale adoption of new methodologies, such as Building Information Modelling highlights our commitment to the environment.

But our cement industry produces an eye-watering ten million tonnes of cementitious materials, making it responsible for around 5.3 megatonnes per annum of greenhouse gas emissions. This fact has induced calls from architects to stop using it.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers may have come up with a solution with an experimental way of manufacturing cement that releases no carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

MIT’s process incorporates an electrochemical method that means that, although carbon dioxide is still produced, it is able to be cleanly captured, so that no emissions enter the environment.

A team led by MIT engineer Yet-Ming Chiang set out to tackle the problem of carbon emissions at the two points in the cement manufacturing process where they arise: from the burning of coal to create the necessary high heats, and from the gases released during the resulting chemical reaction.

credit: nextbigfuture

They used electricity from renewable and low-cost sources for the first problem, but the second proved slightly more challenging. For this, they used an electrolyser to convert the limestone's calcium carbonate into calcium hydroxide.

It’s difficult to understand how the actual process works as a layman, but what results is CO2 coming out as a concentrated gas stream that can be easily separated and sequestered.


This means it can be re-used for other products such as liquid fuel or even carbonated beverages. The CO2 currently produced by cement production is too contaminated to be used in this way.

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