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19 Dec 2023

Research conducted by Teesside University has found a way to reduce Co2 emissions with recycled waste

Amy Power
Research conducted by Teesside University has found a way to reduce Co2 emissions with recycled waste

The academics at the Teesside University’s School of Science, Engineering and Digital Technologies made a statement to the Journal of Cleaner Production, saying that they may have found a groundbreaking technique to accelerate carbon capture and reduce Co2 emissions.

This method involves applying silicate clay-rich waste (SCRW) at a rate of 11.2 tons per hectare, which has the potential to make it possible to remove and store an estimated 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere annually. The research and experiments that the scientists have performed around this idea, have proven that this technique could have a significant and positive impact on the rate at which carbon dioxide emissions are reduced.

In order to make this innovative project as helpful and effective as possible, the recycling specialist Scott Bros will be creating and hosting a three-year research programme. This research has been set up to pinpoint which materials, or combination of materials, are the best to use for optimal carbon sequestration results. Carbon sequestration is the process which removes and stores the increased amount of carbon dioxide within the earth’s atmosphere. This process is the one which the research is focusing on to reverse global warming. So far, the blended SCRW is seen as an option to quickly bypass the naturally occurring weathering process, which uses silicate and carbonate rock. The combination of these two ingredients naturally acts as control for climate change. As these substances are both rich in calcium and magnesium and are both plant-essential nutrients which have a particle size below 1.5mm, these factors make them ideal for use in the carbonation process. This means that the substances offer substantial sequestration potential.

Now that the research has been conducted and hosted by Scott Bros, the family run business has now also agreed to donate their football field-sized site, located close to Haverton Hill, Stockton-on-Tees. At this site, the company decided to create 30 pits, which they have filled with a combination of waste clay, activated cake filler, recycled aggregate and compost. The SCRW for this process is produced as a low value by-product of the firm’s two wash plants, the second of which was a recent development that the company was able to create after a £6m investment in Teesside. The addition of this plant has allowed the company to save construction and excavation waste from going to landfill and has found a way to repurpose this waste into high-quality commercial sand and aggregate, which can then be put to use by the construction industry. So far, this process is viewed as sustainable, as Scott Bros is able to generate an estimated 250,000 tons of SCRW annually. This figure is a rough representation of 6.25% of England’s total non-hazardous construction and demolition waste.

On top of the discoveries they have already made, Scott Bros is already researching methods on conversion for turning clay into ‘recycled’ bricks and has made progress with several prototypes. These prototypes have already attracted attention from major UK housebuilders.

The research around Scott Bros’ project is being conducted by Mardin Abdalqadir, a doctoral researcher, who will be working under the supervision of Dr Sina Rezaei Gomari, who is an Associate Professor of Research in Energy and Environmental Engineering. Together the Doctors have written a paper talking about the process, the paper is called, 'Process-based life cycle assessment of waste clay for mineral carbonation and enhanced weathering: A case study for northeast England, UK '. This paper was also written with help from Professor David Hughes and Ahmed Sidiq from Teesside University and Feysal Shifa from Scott Bros.

Dr. Abdalqadir, commented, “The results indicate that the application of SCRW on agricultural land in North East England could capture a substantial portion of the region's CO2 emissions, equivalent to a significant reduction in the UK's total emissions.”


Dr Rezaei Gomari mentioned, “To fully realise its potential, field-level investigations, robust monitoring systems, and comprehensive assessments are essential to understand its impact on soil properties, water management, and crop growth. This innovative approach emphasises the significant carbon capture potential of waste materials like SCRW compared to natural rock. It carries promising implications for cleaner production technologies and sustainable practices in agriculture.”


A Director at Scott Bros, Peter Scott, added, “I’m confident that SCRW can contribute towards achieving increased resource efficiency while playing a major role in mitigating climate change.

Scott Bros is proud to be supporting this Teesside University research which is a promising step toward reducing carbon emissions and demonstrates the benefit of taking an innovative approach in the quest to create a more sustainable future.”


Another Scott Bros Director, Bob Borthwick, said, “There were four million tonnes of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste in the UK that remained unrecycled in 2020. This study has the potential to completely turn that situation around and provide a huge boost to the circular economy.”


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