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MIT researchers reveal plans for emissions-free cement

Published by , Deputy Editor
World Cement,

MIT researchers have proposed a new method for cement manufacturing which could reduce or even eliminate carbon emissions from cement production. Cement production accounts for around 8% of greenhouse gas emissions, and is therefore a major contributor to carbon releases.

The findings of the MIT researchers will be published in the journal PNAS, in a paper by Yet-Ming Chiang, Kyocera Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, with input from postdoc, Leah Ellis, and graduate student, Andres Badel, as well as others who contributed.

Chiang’s work is based upon the idea of using an electrochemical process, as opposed to burning coal to produce cement. The basic electrochemical method has been tested in the lab, however for use on an industrial scale, the process will require some work.

Not only does the method produce the same end cement product that is made through other methods, it may also be largely cost effective. “In many geographies renewable electricity is the lowest-cost electricity we have today, and its cost is still dropping,” Chiang said.

The new process uses an electrolyser, where a battery is connected to electrodes in water, resulting in bubbles of oxygen from one electrode and bubbles of hydrogen from the other. The electricity then splits the water molecules into their constituent atoms.

Chiang said the aim of this work was to “get people in the electrochemical sector to start thinking more”, rather than to propose a “a fully developed solution.”

The research was partly supported by the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology.

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