Concrete is one of the most common building materials found in the construction industry, used for everything from floors to walls to driveways. The most common methods of producing concrete, however, also generate significant amounts of carbon dioxide, making concrete a substantial contributor to overall greenhouse gas emissions throughout the country. A new method of concrete production pioneered by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) stands to make concrete a greener construction material by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide created through concrete production.
In standard concrete production, the material is made by mixing water, sand, gravel and cement. The problem with emissions comes from the calcium-containing substances used to make the cement. These materials, often combined with clay, are heated to extremely high temperatures during cement production, which causes them to give off carbon dioxide (CO2). Since concrete can’t be made without the addition of the cement, it can’t be produced without the side effect of the high levels of CO2 emission.
A new method of cement production discovered by MIT scientists stands to reduce the amount of CO2 given off by cement production by up to 60 percent, according to Nature Communications.
Carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by decreasing the ratio of calcium to silica, such as that found in silicate-heavy clay used in the manufacture of cement. Lavars indicated that a 1:5 ratio is the best mixture, in contrast to the average 1:7 ratio commonly used as the standard for making cement.
An additional benefit of the new cement production technique is the creation of stronger cement with a better resistance to fractures and damage. Using the new 1:5 ratio produces cement that’s almost twice as strong as normal cement.
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