Rethinking Cement

Australia can have a zero carbon cement industry in 10 years, meeting demand while leading the world in alternative cements.

Cement production is the world’s single biggest industrial cause of carbon pollution, responsible for 8% of global emissions. That’s as much as the global car fleet.

But we now have the technology to decarbonise cement production in just ten years. Beyond Zero Emissions’ Rethinking Cement (2017) shows how Australia can lead the world with zero-carbon cement.

Portland cement has been the world’s standard cement since the 19th century. The key raw material for Portland cement is limestone, which releases carbon dioxide as it is heated in a cement kiln. This process accounts for over 55% of cement-related emissions.

After a reign of nearly 200 years, it’s time to rethink Portland cement. Alternative cements with far lower carbon emissions already exist and can replace Portland cement for any purpose.

Rethinking Cement presents five strategies for tackling cement-related emissions. This is the first plan in the world showing how to achieve a zero carbon cement sector:

  1. Geopolymer cement
  2. Developing high-blend cements with reduced clinker content
  3. Mineral carbonation
  4. Minimising the use of cement
  5. Carbon negative cements

The first three strategies enable the Australian cement industry to eliminate most emissions by changing the way cement is made. The fourth strategy takes us to zero emissions and beyond, by using less cement and sequestering carbon in timber structures. The fifth strategy involves researching carbon negative cements, which could turn our built environment into a major carbon sink.

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