Caltrans Approves Use of Low-Carbon Cement to Help Combat Climate Change

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Source: Caltrans

Caltrans announced today it is approving the use of low-carbon cement to help reduce the carbon footprint of California’s transportation system. By advancing the use of portland limestone cement (PLC), Caltrans’ road construction and maintenance projects can generate less carbon dioxide – the primary greenhouse gas contributing to global warming and climate change – with the same high performance standards at a slightly lower cost.

“Using low-carbon cement can cut Caltrans’ concrete-related carbon dioxide emissions annually by up to 10 percent,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “This is a big step in supporting California’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.”

Cement is typically produced by mining, grinding, and heating limestone in industrial kilns to temperatures as high as 2,820 degrees Fahrenheit (1,550 degrees Celsius). The process alters the rock’s chemistry and creates “clinker” – the basic component in nearly all types of cement – but also generates large quantities of carbon dioxide. PLC contains less clinker.

In 2017 alone, Caltrans used 325,000 tons of cement to upgrade the state highway system. Switching to low-carbon cement has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 28,000 tons a year – the equivalent of removing more than 6,000 cars off the road.

Caltrans expects that the reduced energy needs associated with PLC production will make the cost similar or slightly less when compared to regular cement.

The new low-carbon cement standards are based on Caltrans-funded research conducted at Oregon State University, which concluded that PLC is equally suitable for Caltrans’ construction projects as ordinary cement with a reduced carbon footprint. Throughout the review process, Caltrans worked closely with its partners at the California Air Resources Board and industry experts and stakeholders, such as the California Construction and Industrial Materials Association and the California Nevada Cement Association, to draft the new standard specifications.

 

In 2010, Caltrans changed its concrete standard specifications to increase the use of sustainable alternatives in transportation projects, an initiative that helped spur a shift in concrete production throughout the state. Caltrans will continue to work with the California Air Resources Board to reach the state’s goal and achieve net-zero emissions from the cement sector by 2045.

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Shasta Guy Jan 26, 2022 01:25 PM
Caltrans Approves Use of Low-Carbon Cement to Help Combat Climate Change

I wonder what the 2010 specification change was? If the green cement is weaker or does not last as long against the original requirement then there may be no benefit. Will safety be compromised because the specification had to be changed to accommodate this material?

a-1643239196 Jan 26, 2022 03:19 PM
Caltrans Approves Use of Low-Carbon Cement to Help Combat Climate Change

Well, everyone is always so skeptical that no wonder nothing gets done. If indeed the facts hold, then certainly it is a good thing. Something has to be done to accommodate our need to have 1 car for each person, for our “convenience”. If somehow we can find a less climate offending cement, then absolutely use it. I know I’ll be looking into it more.

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