Credit: Katorisi / Wikimedia Commons
Credit: Katorisi / Wikimedia Commons

MIT researchers have come up with a new chemical formula for cement that could reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of concrete production by more than half.

That’s big news for the health of the planet, since the billions of tons of concrete produced each year contribute as much as one-tenth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Despite concrete’s ubiquity, researchers have only recently begun to explore its molecular-level properties, and they are spurred on by concerns about its environmental footprint.

Roland Pellenq, a principle investigator at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub, says the MIT team—with colleagues from Marseilles, France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Houston, Texas’s Rice University—has found the “magical ratio” of calcium to silica, which can range widely in conventional cements. Reducing calcium content reduces emissions, and the new formula will also improve the material’s strength and durability.

Listen to a segment aired by Marketplace this week about the implications of the study.

Read more in Scientific American and MIT News.

And peruse the full report in Nature Communications.

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