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Cement-Based Materials Absorb
CO2 Over Lifetime

University of California, Irvine Research Study


Researchers from several institutions across the U.S., China and Europe, including the University of California, Irvine, found that over its lifetime, cement products reabsorb about 43 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted by their production.

Cement might not be as bad for the environment as people think, according to a new study by the University of California, Irvine. Researchers from UCI, China, Europe and other U.S. institutions tallied CO2 emissions from cement manufacturing and compared them to the CO2 reabsorbed by the material over its lifetime, including use, disposal and recycling.

The researchers found that cement is actually a carbon sink, meaning that it takes CO2 out of the atmosphere permanently. Through carbonation, cement-based materials used in buildings, roads and infrastructure draws carbon dioxide into their pores.

The study found that between 1930 and 2013, more than 76 billion tons of cement was produced worldwide. As a result, an estimated 38.2 gigatons of CO2 was released over that period. Of that, about 4.5 gigatons, or 43 percent of emissions from limestone conversion, were gradually reabsorbed by cement during the same period of time.

While it's not 100 percent carbon neutral, cement reabsorbs a sizable amount of CO2 over its lifetime - a far greater impact than was anticipated. The research reinforces that while cement production has gotten a bad rap for its carbon emissions, fossil fuel burning remains the largest contributor to climate change.

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October 20, 2019, 8:48 pm PDT

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