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The runway at the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport, near Toowoomba, has utilised low carbon geopolymer concrete.
The runway at the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport, near Toowoomba, has utilised low carbon geopolymer concrete.

Zero carbon emission cement touted for local industry

A new report by a local climate change think tank has detailed how Australia could ‘wipe out’ emissions from cement within the next decade.

The report, commissioned by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) and titled Zero Carbon Industry Plan: Rethinking Cement, discusses how Australia’s quarrying and construction industry could significantly decrease global emissions caused from making cement. It identified five key strategies:

  1. Switching 50 per cent of the global cement demand to geopolymer cement.

  2. Swapping the other 50 per cent with high blend cements to reduce its carbon intensity.

  3. Employing mineral carbonation techniques to capture the emissions from the remaining production of Portland cement.

  4. Gradually reducing the use of the material.

  5. Introducing the use of carbon negative cements.

“Cement production causes eight per cent of global carbon emissions – more than the global car fleet,” report lead author Michael Lord said.

“The first stage of cement making is to transform limestone into lime, thus releasing carbon dioxide as a waste product. More than half of cement-related emissions are due to this chemical process – we can’t continue to use limestone in this way any more than we can keep burning coal.

“We have the technology to wipe out emissions from cement in 10 years, and with smart thinking, we can even turn cement into a carbon sink of the future.”

Rating scheme

The Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia’s (ISCA) CEO Antony Sprigg has also expressed support for the report, adding the company’s recently introduced Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) rating scheme complements BZE’s desire to implement low carbon cements.

“Our new IS scheme will reward infrastructure projects that manage to replace at least 50 per cent of Portland cement with alternative, low carbon cements,” Sprigg said.

BZE’s head of research Michael Lord agreed with those sentiments and added: “We think that Australia can lead the world towards zero carbon cement, and ISCA’s new innovation challenge will make a big contribution to that.”

As previously reported by Quarry, some local infrastructure projects have already replaced a proportion of Portland cement with low carbon alternatives.

In 2014, the Wagner Group – which has interests in environmentally friendly concrete and cement – constructed the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport, the first greenfield public airport development in Australia since 1970, using mostly low carbon geopolymer concrete.

BZE’s full report can be read here.

More reading
‘Can-do’ attitude proves the difference in airport project
Encouraging sustainable use of quarry resources
Breakthrough turns carbon dioxide into rock
Researchers develop ‘reversible’ construction method

Tuesday, 21 August, 2018 11:44pm
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