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07 Feb 2024

CAER reveals plan to manufacture next-generation cements through using carbon dioxide

Amy Power
CAER reveals plan to manufacture next-generation cements through using carbon dioxide

A new search for more environmentally friendly cement and concrete solutions has been started by the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy (CAER) Cementitious Materials Group. This group develops and tests cements and concretes and the name of the project is, ‘Innovative Design of a Sorbent-Mineralization Technology, Addressing Industrial CO2 Capture for Value-Added Industrial Byproducts.’

The CAER’s researchers have decided to start this search through exploring a new way of improving the performance of cement and concrete, by using carbon dioxide. They have started this experiment with help and support provided by PPL Corporation.

The first steps the center has taken with this project, is to develop an innovative calcium-based sorbent, which is a material which picks up and retains liquid. The company has chosen to use a calcium-based sorbent as it will mineralize the carbon dioxide, consequently enhancing the reactivity of the powdered product, which is produced as a result of this reaction. The sorbent, which is used, is deployed through the use of a traditional spray dryer technology and it is then paired with high Co2 emitting industrial processes which ultimately produce a high-performance material. CAER’s aim with this reactive powder, is that it will enhance the hydration and strength performance of standard cements, mortars and concretes, therefore highlighting how the use of Co2 can make concrete and cements better.

The main focus for the project at this stage of development is deciding on a clean energy strategy which will enable the companies to focus on driving innovation and advancing technologies. The predominant aim for these technologies is to be scaled safely, reliably and affordably. Within the range of technologies, carbon capture and sequestrations technologies will also be included.

CAER has asked for PPL help and support throughout this project because PPL currently has over 150 research and development projects on the go. They are a leading U.S. energy company who are dedicated to providing electricity and natural gas safely, reliably and affordably, making them an excellent company for CAER to ask for support from. They are also responsible for delivering this service to over 3.5 million customers who are spread throughout Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and finally, Virigina.

PPL director of Research and Development and a member of the UK CAER Advisory Board, Aron Patrick, commented, “Eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from sources and processes readily used in the world today, such as electricity generation, transportation and manufacturing, requires research into innovative technologies that can capture and permanently store carbon dioxide. Concrete is ubiquitous in modern society and offers tremendous potential for permanent carbon sequestration.”

Associate director of CAER’s Cementitious Materials Group, Bob Jewell, added, “Everyone who works in the cement and concrete space is aware of the concerns with carbon dioxide. It’s a major challenge facing the industry. Our group is committed to creating more sustainable cement and concrete manufacturing processes, and this project holds great promise. I thank our project collaborators – PPL Corporation – for working with us on this endeavor. Innovation requires many partners, and the team at PPL has been both encouraging and supportive along the way. We appreciate their commitment to our work here at CAER.”

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