New, greener cement receives Swiss funding

A consortium led by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) has developed a new blend of cement that can reduce the carbon footprint of cement by up to 40 per cent. Applied globally, it could bring down future global CO2 emissions by several percent.

Although cement is considered one of the most sustainable construction materials, its production is still responsible for almost ten per cent of human CO2 emissions, explains an EPFL news release. By replacing half of the usual Portland cement used to make concrete with clay and limestone, both of which are available en masse in quarries around the world, the EPFL – together with partners from the Indian Institutes of Technology and from universities in Brazil and Cuba – has produced a cement that is low-carbon, strong and easily integrated into existing cement production lines.

Two industrial scale pilot projects in India and Cuba have already demonstrated the robustness of this method. In the next phase of the project, larger-scale production tests are scheduled with industrial partners.

There have been previous attempts to produce low-carbon cement, but the alternative materials used – such as slag from the steel industry or fly ash from coal power plants – are not available in large enough quantities to keep up with global demand, which is expected to double by 2050. Given the pressing need for a low-carbon alternative, the just over 4 million Swiss francs in funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation will enable the EPFL and its partners to bring its cement to the market as quickly as possible.


Photo credit: David Brewer/Creative Commons

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