Green cement becomes a reality

Published:  28 January, 2011

LONDON: A carbon-neutral cement could be marketed soon. Novacem, a commercial venture set up by Imperial College with funding from Laing O'Rourke has developed carbon-neutral cement based on magnesium oxide.

It will give the concrete industry a scalable alternative to current carbon intensive production. For every tonne of Portland cement replaced by Novacem cement, around one tonne of CO2 is captured and stored indefinitely.

Laing O'Rourke's investment into Novacem is part of a wider £1.6m fund-raising, and is the contractor's second big investment in Novacem, which plans to produce a commercially available cement that absorbs carbon.

Ray O'Rourke, Laing O'Rourke's chairman, said: "Clients are seeking increasingly more viable and sustainable construction solutions, and the industry can no longer drag its heels on this issue.

"Good progress has been made over the last 10 years, but much more needs to be done.

"Although we recognise there is a limit to what is possible to improve the sustainability of conventional Portland cement, we are excited by the radical innovation being developed through our partnership with Novacem," he said.

Novacem's cement binder uses a different chemistry and a new lower temperature manufacturing process, reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

The resulting cement hardens by absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide effectively locking the greenhouse gas into construction materials.

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