Cement production is the third-most polluting industry in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, behind chemicals/petrochemicals and iron and steel.
Last month the University of East Anglia published research that claimed an average of 42 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the creation of cement were actually recouped from the atmosphere once the concrete is in situ.
This is good news, if true, but work is still needed to reduce the carbon footprint of cement in order to prevent disastrous global warming, and the opportunity exists to turn cement from climate change villain to climate change hero by making it carbon negative – that is, absorbing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than was used to produce it.
This article examines the nature of cement and concrete, ways to reduce the impact of its present production processes, and novel substitutes and means of production that, if successful at scale, will eradicate greenhouse gas emissions from its lifecycle.
All in all, this adds up to around 63 ways to cut the global warming impact of cement.