Concrete is tipping us into climate catastrophe. It’s payback time

by John Vidal, The Guardian

Tucked away in volume three of the technical data for Britain’s £53bn high speed rail project is a table that shows 20m tonnes of concrete will have to be poured to build the requisite 105 miles of track, culverts, bridges and tunnels. It is enough, it has been calculated, to pave over the entire city of Manchester.

A more modest 3 million tonnes of concrete will be needed to construct the Hinckley B nuclear power station in Somerset, and the proposed new runway at Heathrow will require one million tonnes.

Cement, the key component of concrete and one of the most widely used manmade materials, is now the cornerstone of global construction. It has shaped the modern environment, but its production has a massive footprint that neither the industry nor governments have been willing to address.

Because of the heat needed to decompose rock and the natural chemical processes involved in making cement, every tonne made releases one tonne of C02, the main greenhouse warming gas.

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Betting on a new way to make concrete that doesn’t pollute

by Stanley Reed, NY Times

Just after sunrise, a concrete plant located in a muddy industrial zone north of London stirs to life. Workers in orange suits and hard hats watch through a protective window as a machine presses what looks like red sand into a tray of brick-shaped blocks.

Further along the line, other workers carefully measure these ruddy-colored blocks, pitch rejects into bins, and then adjust the machinery to correct errors.

Joining the dawn patrol on this fall morning is a team from a company called Solidia Technologies. Solidia is based in Piscataway, N. J., and has financial backing from a well-known Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, as well as oil companies like BP and Total of France.

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