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2013 News in Brief



Treading Lightly: MIT researchers work with industry to shrink concrete’s environmental footprint

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L to R: Krystyn Van Vliet of materials science and engineering; Franz-Josef Ulm, faculty director of the CSHub; Jeremy Gregory, executive director of the CSHub; and Roland Pellenq, scientific director of the CSHub, hope to manipulate cement at the molecular level to make it more environmentally benign. Photo / L. Barry HetheringtonCould the path to a more sustainable future be paved in concrete? Researchers at MIT’s Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) certainly think so. By investigating cement and concrete from the nanoscale up and considering its full life cycle, they are working to reduce the energy footprint of the world’s most common building material. “The per-unit weight impact of concrete on CO2 levels is low; but since each person on the planet consumes 1 cubic yard of concrete each year, the aggregate impact is substantial,” said Franz-Josef Ulm, faculty director of the CSHub and the George Macomber Professor of civil and environmental engineering. Indeed, the production of cement powder, the primary ingredient of concrete, accounts for 5 to 10 percent of global CO2 production annually. Read a story.