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Novacem Carbon-Eating Cement Is Material Connexion’s Material Of The Year

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

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Cement production is responsible for as much as 5% the world’s annual production of CO2 and the world can’t get enough of the stuff. So when Sami first wrote about Novacem, a cement substitute made from magnesium silicate, it was exciting stuff. Could this really make a dent in the 2.9 billion tonnes of cement that’s made every year?

For the second year in a row, a concrete-related product has been chosen as material of the year in Material ConneXion’s MEDIUM Award program. Material ConneXion, a global materials consultancy and library, awarded Novacem’s Carbon Negative Cement as the winner. This follows last year’s inaugural winner, Concrete Canvas, which won for its Concrete Cloth cement-impregnated flexible fabric technology.

According to Dr. Andrew H. Dent, Material ConneXion’s vice president, library and materials research, half of the roughly 500 materials considered for this year’s award were related to the building arena. “That wasn’t intentional,” explains Dent. “We don’t think we need to represent one particular area of the materials industry, in the same way that we didn’t have sustainability as a main attribute when choosing the materials.” The jury was more focused, says Dent, on products that “herald some real change for the future.” The high percentage of building materials signifies a push in that area toward both innovation and sustainability, says Dent.

Typical cement is responsible for approximately 5 percent of man-made carbon dioxide; the emissions are caused by the processing of limestone and raw materials and the burning of fossil fuels. Novacem’s carbon negative cement replaces calcium carbonates used in typical cement formulation with magnesium silicates and uses a lower-temperature production process that runs on biomass fuels. Novacem associate engineer Daniel Bowden says that while the cement is still in development, they are already achieving strengths of up to 80 Mpa. Dent says the cement was the clear winner. ”If implemented, the material would take care of most of construction’s attempts at carbon reductions in one fell swoop.” Bowden says that a commerical rollout is currently planned for 2014–2015.

Out of the nine runner-ups for the award, four are construction materials with notably green attributes: Saratech Permasorb Wallpaper, which removes toxins embedded in wall surfaces; Lumisys transparent LED signboard that uses low-energy, long-life LEDs; ECOR panels made from cow manure and other recycled content; and Eco-HPL, the first high-pressure laminate made without phenol-formaldehyde.

Dent thinks industry certifications, though often limited in scope, are what give building material companies an advantage: “Construction is one of the few industries where there is a clear framework of what you are supposed to do.” Novacem Limited, London. [Reader Service: August 2011, #200]

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Novacem Carbon-Eating Cement Is Material Connexion’s Material Of The Year

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