New cement cuts greenhouse gases by 90%
Cement made from 'fly ash', a byproduct from coal-fired power plants, has a remarkably lower carbon footprint, recycles industrial waste, and is more durable.
Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 04:43 PM
CONCRETE: A 5,000 lb. geopolymer concrete block cast using fly ash. (Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Erez Allouche/Louisiana Tech University)
Green cement? Given that the concrete industry is single-handedly blamed for 5 to 8 percent of all human-generated atmospheric CO2 worldwide, the notion may seem like an oxymoron. But researchers at Louisiana Tech have invented a remarkable new material which could cut greenhouse gas emissions from cement production by 90 percent.
The new material, inorganic polymer concrete (geopolymer), utilizes "fly ash", a substance which is one of the most abundant industrial byproducts on earth, as a substitute for conventional Portland cement.
Not only does the new material recycle waste that would otherwise take up hundreds of thousands of acres used for disposal of coal combustion products, but geopolymer concrete features greater corrosion resistance, substantially higher fire resistance (up to 2400° F), high compressive and tensile strengths, a rapid strength gain, and lower shrinkage.
And perhaps most importantly, the new material has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 90 percent over Portland cement. The key to its lower CO2 emissions is its significantly longer life cycle, capable of design life measured in hundreds of years instead of decades.
Since Portland cement is one of the most widely produced man-made materials on earth -- currently toping 2.6 billion tons per year worldwide and growing at 5 percent annually -- finding and using a greener cement is absolutely necessary if our global carbon footprint is going to be curbed.
This innovative technology definitely deserves its 'green' label. If you're interested in learning more, the research will be presented at Louisiana Tech's Energy Systems Conference on Nov. 5 at the Technology Transfer Center in Shreveport.