• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Greener Concrete

Air Date: Week of


Qainat (Kine-att) Khan reports in this LOE Science Note about a greener, stronger concrete developed by Kansas State University professor Kyle Riding's team of researchers.


KHAN: Every year we use seven billion cubic meters of concrete. That’s one cubic meter for every person on Earth. And producing that much concrete also produces up to eight percent of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. So researchers at Kansas State University thought, well, if we could find a way to make concrete go a lot farther, we could reduce the total concrete production and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Kyle Riding is an engineering professor at KSU and he and his team have created a concrete mix that does just that.

Most of the carbon dioxide in the concrete process comes from making cement. Cement’s the most important component in concrete, and it needs lime, which you make by heating calcium carbonate until it breaks down into lime and carbon dioxide. So to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, you need to use less cement in your concrete mixture. Riding’s team did this by replacing 20 percent of the cement in the concrete mix with silica. When silica's mixed into cement, it reacts to make concrete stronger and more durable. This is what ancient Romans did when they mixed their lime with volcanic ash.

And Riding’s team found this high silicate miracle compound in an unlikely place: the landfill. The substance - called high lignin residue - is the waste from a process used to make cellulosic ethanol. But this organic material is usually just trashed. So Riding’s concrete mixture could help to solve two problems: it could cut carbon dioxide emissions and reduce landfill waste. Which just goes to show, less can be more. That's this week's note on emerging science, I'm Qainat Khan.



Kansas State University

Green Building News


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth