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How gas emissions can turn into sustainable concrete

CO2ncrete a new building material created to replace concrete. Photo credit_UCLA Luskin CO2ncrete a new building material created to replace concrete. Photo credit: UCLA Luskin

What if we could create a world without concrete? Carbon from power-plant smokestacks remains the biggest source of harmful global greenhouse gas however a team from UCLA have devised a plan that would harness CO2 and use it to create a new building material, CO2NCRETE. 3D printers would manufacture this while replacing traditional cement production (which accounts for 5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions).

“I decided to get involved in this project because it could be a game-changer for climate policy,”  said J.R. DeShazo, professor of public policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and director of the UCLA Luskin Centre for Innovation. “This technology tackles global climate change, which is one of the biggest challenges that society faces now and will face over the next century.”

DeShazo has provided the public policy and economic guidance for this research. The scientific contributions have been led by Gaurav Sant, associate professor and Henry Samueli Fellow in Civil and Environmental Engineering; Richard Kaner, distinguished professor in chemistry and biochemistry, and materials science and engineering; Laurent Pilon, professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering and bioengineering; and Matthieu Bauchy, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering.

Beyond just capturing CO2

This isn’t the first attempt to capture carbon emissions from power plants. It’s been done before, but the challenge has been what to do with the carbon dioxide once it’s captured.

DeShazo_Sant show off CO2ncrete Photo credit_Roberto Gudino of UCLA

J.R. DeShazo left and Gaurav Sant show off CO2ncrete. Photo credit: Roberto Gudino at UCLA

The researchers are excited about the possibility of reducing greenhouse gas in the U.S., especially in regions where coal-fired power plants are abundant. “But even more so is the promise to reduce the emissions in China and India,” DeShazo said. “China is currently the largest greenhouse gas producer in the world, and India will soon be number two, surpassing us.”

Thus far, the new construction material has been produced only at a lab scale, using 3-D printers to shape it into tiny cones. “We have proof of concept that we can do this,” DeShazo said. “But we need to begin the process of increasing the volume of material and then think about how to pilot it commercially.

“This technology could change the economic incentives associated with these power plants in their operations and turn the smokestack flue gas into a resource countries can use, to build up their cities, extend their road systems,” DeShazo said. “It takes what was a problem and turns it into a benefit in products and services that are going to be very much needed and valued in places like India and China.”

Read this article in full at: Kurzweil.Ai

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