Cement 2 Zero
£6.5m of Innovate UK funding has been awarded to trial the Cambridge Electric Cement product at industry scale with a consortium of leading industry partners from across the sector.
Led by the Materials Processing Institute, supported by the University of Cambridge (UoC), and in collaboration with key players in the supply chain, Cement 2 Zero is the first collaborative trial of its kind, to address the global construction industry’s biggest challenge of decarbonisation, in response to the climate emergency.
The Cement 2 Zero project will investigate both the technical and commercial aspects of upscaling Cambridge Electric Cement (CEC) production to produce 20 tonnes of the world’s first zero emissions cement.
The first phase of trial melts is being carried out by the Materials Processing Institute, initially in a 250kg induction furnace, before being scaled up to 6T in an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF). Once the process has been substantially trialled, developed and de-risked effectively, industrial scale melts will follow in CELSA’s EAF in Cardiff.
The two-year industrial trial will test each stage of the production process and brings together the expertise of the Materials Processing Institute, the University of Cambridge and key supply chain partners – Atkins, Balfour Beatty, CELSA, Day Aggregates and Tarmac – before using the innovative product in a live UK construction project.
If successful, it could not only further advance the cement, steel and construction industries, but influence how we recycle, construct and maintain our built environment and transport infrastructure, shaping the future of towns and cities, whilst simultaneously boosting economic development, and most importantly, reducing CO2 emissions to help tackle global warming.
Chris McDonald, Chief Executive Officer of the Materials Processing Institute, said: “Cement 2 Zero has the potential to make a significant contribution to achieving a zero-carbon society, secure and increase jobs in the UK cement and steel sectors and challenge conventional production processes, creating high-value materials from demolition waste.”
Dr Philippa Horton, University of Cambridge, who created the project consortium, said: “If Cambridge Electric Cement lives up to the promise it has shown in early laboratory trials, when combined with other innovative technologies, it could be a pivotal point in the journey to a zero-emissions society. The Cement 2 Zero project is an invaluable opportunity to collaborate across the entire construction supply chain, to expand CEC from the laboratory to its first commercial application.”
Materials Processing Institute is a research, development and innovation (R,D&I) centre working in advanced materials, industrial decarbonisation, the circular economy, and digital technologies. The Institute provides technology and R,D&I services and consultancy. It also has pilot and demonstration facilities to support businesses and collaboration partners with the development of new technologies, materials and processes.
The Institute will lead and oversee the two-year trial.
Based in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, The Use Less Group is led by Julian Allwood, Professor of Engineering and the Environment and Fellow of the Royal Society of Engineering. The group pursues world-leading research into the sustainable use of materials, energy and resources and is funded by EPSRC, UKRI and industry partners. UoC will identify the optimum recovered cement composition for symbiotic cement and steel recycling. Cambridge Electric Cement was developed as part of the Use Less Group, under the UK FIRES project.
Atkins is a world-leading design, engineering and project-management consultancy. Atkins will design the new infrastructure to test the new CEC in a UK construction demonstrator project.
Balfour Beatty is a leading international infrastructure group with 24,500 employees driving the delivery of powerful new solutions, shaping thinking, creating skylines and inspiring a new generation of talent to be the change-makers of tomorrow.
We finance, develop, build, maintain and operate the increasingly complex and critical infrastructure that supports national economies and deliver projects at the heart of local communities.
Balfour Beatty will work with designers Atkins to construct the infrastructure using the new CEC in a UK construction demonstrator project.
Based in Cardiff, Celsa Steel UK is the largest manufacturer of steel reinforcement in the UK. It will introduce a zero emission EAF flux material and build a prototype EAF slag cooling system to transform steel slag into cement clinker.
Day Group is a leading manufacturer and supplier of construction materials and contract services based in Middlesex. Day Aggregates will build the first UK prototype crusher for recovering cement paste from end-of-life concrete, creating a new market for high value recycled aggregate and recovered cement paste.
The UK’s leading sustainable construction and solutions business, Tarmac, is advising on the cement elements including the certification and specification of the CEC as usable cement product. Tarmac is also advising on the concrete mix designs and optimisation of the same.
The challenge fund brings together the UK’s world-leading research with business to meet the major industrial and societal challenges of our time. It provides funding and support to UK businesses and researchers, part of the greatest single increase in UK science and innovation funding for over 40 years. The fund is backed by £2.6 billion of public money, with £3 billion in matched funding from the private sector. It is run by UK Research and Innovation, which comprises the Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England.