Rethinking Cement and Concrete Could Pave the Way to Net Zero

Decarbonizing cement and concrete production is essential for achieving 2050 net zero goals. Innovative approaches and technologies in the industry could transform cement and concrete from major pollutants to key elements in the fight against climate change.

Rethinking Cement and Concrete Could Pave the Way to Net Zero
Photo by peter bucks / Unsplash

The cement and concrete industry is undergoing transformative changes to meet global net zero targets by 2050 and limit global warming to a 1.5°C increase. Innovations in raw materials, production processes, and energy sources aim to reduce the sector's carbon emissions drastically. The First Movers Coalition’s First Suppliers Hub is at the forefront, showcasing over 80 decarbonization projects within the cement and concrete sector, including more than 30 projects specifically focused on this industry.

Decarbonization efforts center around reducing reliance on traditional Portland Cement, which contributes 88% of the sector's CO2 emissions primarily through clinker production. Alternative methods include developing less carbon-intensive materials and processes, such as utilizing carbon-free silicate rock or employing electrochemical processes that convert non-carbonate rocks into hydraulic cement.

Companies like Brimstone, Sublime, CarbonBuilt, Chement, and Fortera are innovating with technologies that could potentially make cement and concrete production carbon-negative. These include using magnesium residues that bind with CO2, creating alternative binders that react with captured CO2 to strengthen concrete, and employing renewable electricity for cement production. These efforts not only aim to reduce emissions but also transform the industry into a climate solution.

Furthermore, the integration of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technology is vital for mitigating CO2 emissions from clinker production. Supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) are also highlighted as crucial for reducing the clinker-binder ratio, thus lowering the carbon footprint of cement and concrete products.


ET Edge Insights