How can we decarbonise cement production?

Water is the most used substance in the world. The second one is concrete.

Concrete is used in a lot of structures, from towering skyscrapers to bungalows, bridges, pavements, and even flowerpots.

One of the main components of concrete is cement, and cement production alone is responsible for around 7% of global, man-made CO2 emissions. Too much CO2 in our atmosphere is the main driver of climate change.

Cement can be replaced with other materials. However, cement is necessary for making concrete. We could use wood as a construction material instead, but even if we drastically increased our use of wood, there would still be a great need for concrete in buildings and infrastructure, particularly as urbanisation is increasing around the world.

Therefore, we need a way to reduce our CO2 emissions from cement – and quickly.

CCS can decarbonise industries with hard-to-avoid CO2 emissions

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) means capture CO2 from industrial processes and storing it deep underground where it can’t escape back into the atmosphere.

Since 1996, CO2 separated from natural gas at the Sleipner field has been captured and safely injected into the ground under the North Sea. A lot of work has been done since then to make this technology better, most cost effective, and capable of being implemented at a large scale.

In many industries, it would be better to avoid producing CO2 altogether. However, two thirds of the CO2 produced from making cement are released during the calcination of the key ingredient: limestone, and cannot be avoided.

Therefore, the only way to decarbonise cement production is to capture the CO2 emissions and store them.

CCS is one of many solutions needed to create a sustainable future

In 2015, the UN set a goal of limiting the increase in global temperatures to well below 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial temperatures.

CCS is crucial for meeting this target, as it enables us to reduce CO2 emissions from industries like cement, which society depends on but are difficult to decarbonise.

However, it is important to remember that CCS is not the solution, but one of many solutions needed to create a sustainable future.

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