Cambridge Scientists Invent Novel Cement Recycling Method

Date: June 11, 2024

Source: University of Cambridge

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a novel method to produce low-emission concrete using electric arc furnaces typically used for recycling steel. This innovative approach involves recycling cement, a major source of CO2 emissions, by substituting it for lime flux in steel production. The process has been tested successfully at scale, showing significant potential to reduce emissions without adding to production costs, and could achieve zero emissions if powered by renewable energy.

Concrete, made from sand, gravel, water, and cement, is responsible for a large portion of global CO2 emissions. The new method addresses this by recycling cement from demolition waste, which replaces lime flux in steelmaking and produces recycled cement suitable for new concrete. This process not only mitigates the environmental impact but also integrates seamlessly into existing industrial workflows.

The recycled cement method significantly reduces emissions from both concrete and steel production. It works by using electric arc furnaces to process cement and steel slag, creating a reactivated form of cement that can be reused. This innovative approach offers a scalable and cost-effective solution to one of the world's most pressing decarbonization challenges.

Looking ahead, the Cambridge Electric Cement process has the potential to scale rapidly, with projections of producing up to one billion tonnes of recycled cement annually by 2050. This development not only represents a breakthrough for the construction industry but also highlights the broader opportunities for innovation in achieving zero emissions across various sectors.

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