Professor Works to Reduce Concrete Construction’s Carbon Footprint

Concrete production leads to a lot of greenhouse gas and a lot of heat. A professor in Texas is working to change that.

screeding a concrete slabsakoat contributor/Shutterstock

Texas State professor Fred Aguayo is researching new and sustainable methods for producing concrete without the use of environmentally unfriendly materials and processes.

“While at Texas State, my primary research interest has been in developing and evaluating new and sustainable cement-based materials used in concrete and on increasing their application in modern construction practice,” said Aguayo in a spotlight of his work.

Portland cement, the most commonly used cement worldwide, is a base ingredient in concrete, and its production requires a large amount of heat and releases CO2 into the Earth’s atmosphere. Aguayo and his team are attempting to reduce those greenhouse gas emissions and create better, more sustainable processes for concrete production.

“My research group is looking at how to move from conventional Portland cement to alternative or non-Portland cement binders with better environmental results and improved durability,” said Aguayo.

The idea is to reduce concrete construction’s environmental impact in two ways. First, Aguayo’s team wants to introduce new methods for concrete production into the industry that use less energy and create less emissions. Alternative binders for Portland cement already exist, but have not historically been researched enough to be trusted in large-scale construction projects.

“Research like ours is designed to reverse this trend by increasing our understanding of how these alternative binders perform,” said Aguayo.

The second way the team is trying to lessen concrete construction’s damage to the environment is through the use of waste materials in concrete. Using waste materials to increase concrete performance would reduce both the amount of waste in landfills and the amount of cement used in concrete production.

Aguayo’s research comes at a critical time, as the National Center for Biotechnology Information recently released research linking global climate change to higher rates of heat related deaths in the construction industry. He and his team also recently began a research project with the Texas Department of Transportation.