Scientists develop a new, greener cement

Published Date : Jun 04, 2014

A consortium led by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) is in the phase of coming up with a new blend of cement that could reduce the carbon footprint of concrete on the environment by nearly 40%. What’s more to it is a novel effort by the country in making this environmentally essential Project financially strong; to scale up its efforts, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has decided to financially back the project.  

It is estimated that the processes involved in manufacturing cement leads to CO2 emissions worth nearly 10% of the total CO2 emitted by humans and human-borne products or processes. 

The interesting aspect of this cement is its enormous strength. To get an idea of its strength, consider this comparison with Portland cement, the strongest cement in the world:

Concrete made from one part of the usual Portland cement will have strength equal as that of a concrete mixture made from just half a part of this new cement. 

A reduction in the amount of cement required in a general construction project, when we replace the usual cement with this new blend, would directly lead to less CO2 emission – less by almost 40% of the current rate of CO2 emission due to the usual cement production activities. When we think of this on a global level, it would mean a significant reduction in the global carbon footprint of this industry on the environment in the near future. 

It is estimated that during the production of each ton of a usual blend of cement releases nearly 800 kg of CO2 and a way to reduce the use of cement in the field of construction, by virtue of a proper substitute, has almost been impossible to this date. Two such alternatives that are currently used – slag from steel industries and fly ash from coal power plants – provide good quality but are not produced in amounts well enough to suffice the demands. 

This new blend, in comparison, could change the picture of construction industry with its promise for better strength with less volume. The new blend is a combination of ground limestone and calcined clay and is named Limestone Calcined Clay Cement or LC3 in short. 

But a lot of testing still remains before we could see this product being actually manufactured and then used and thanks to the Swiss funding, we could anticipate this soon now.