With the world’s governments committing to reduce CO2 emissions and become more ‘green-minded’, it’s very positive to see the amount of research going into developing alternative cement products.
Cement has been used since the Roman times and is a hugely strong and supportive product. Most of us will come into contact with concrete on a daily basis – from concrete offices and car parks in town, to our own pattern imprinted concrete driveways and outdoor patio areas. It appears in tarmac, road bridges, airport runways, reservoirs, underground stations, skyscrapers and more.
Yet it adds more CO2 to the environment than the world’s aviation industry and requires huge amounts of fossil fuels to produce. Additionally, it fails the green agenda by increasing in production every year, thanks to its role in concrete production.
The good news is that ‘greener’ solutions are emerging, thanks to bright young science researchers passionate about the green agenda, and supported increasingly by industry and commerce keen to patent emerging green technologies.
Light foam based concretes are one new solution, alongside CeramiCrete which is twice as strong as traditional concrete, and therefore only required in half the quantity. However, the sticking point is that these new technologies do cost more.
The smartest and least expensive comes solution from the oil industry. Thermoplastic binders are being investigated by Shell for use as cement alternatives – produced by oil by-products, and possible for up to 90% of traditional concrete replacement. The product saves 3.5 tons of CO2 by using a ton of the new carbon concrete– significant gains indeed.
It’s fascinating to see a crude oil by-product being transformed into a green product, and the concrete industry finally seeking viable alternatives for environmentally-friendly future products. Yet to be approved in some countries, these new products await the test of commercial large-scale application before the real benefits can be seen. Certainly for now though, the future of the cement industry is looking a whole lot brighter, and greener.