Researchers explore eco-friendly solutions for concrete

The National Research Programme in Switzerland launched the joint project Low Energy Concrete. The results now show the way to climate-friendly use of concrete.

The joint research project Low Energy Concrete is part of the National Research Programmes Energy Turnaround (NFP 70) and Managing Energy Consumption (NFP 71). It hails from the fact that all buildings in Switzerland consume “over their entire life cycle around 50 per cent of Switzerland’s final energy requirement”, according to a statement. They are also responsible for around 30 per cent of CO2 emissions.

One objective of the research was to explore how CO2 emissions and grey energy – the energy that is used to manufacture, transport and recycle products – can be reduced by decreasing the amount of clinker in cement. The project also aimed to find out to what extent grey energy is reduced by replacing reinforcing and prestressing steel in concrete structures with wood and plastic. Finally, it analysed how the service life of the structures is extended and how this reduces grey energy and CO2 emissions.

“The research work shows that the CO2 emissions caused by concrete and concrete structures can be reduced by a factor of 4, while the bound grey energy can be decreased by a factor of 3,” writes the statement about the results. The project also showed that the necessary measures do not significantly impair the material properties of concrete.

Image credit: Steven Davis, UCI

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