A new generation of concrete formulations with substantially reduced CO2 footprints and equivalent performance.
UGC will enable to sustain the development of emerging economies at a considerably lower environmental cost.
UGC is founded on its two-fold strategy: reduce clinker in cement and simultaneosuly reduce cement in concrete.
Portland cement (PC), a combination of clinker (95%) and gypsum (5%), is the product manufactured in largest on a mass basis, and it is the binder used to produce concrete. Concrete is the second most used substance by mankind after water. Due to this enormous utilisation, PC is responsible for about 8% of manmade CO2 emissions. Given the scale of consumption, there are no other materials available in in the quantities that would be needed to replace a large proportion of concrete, making the endeavour to reduce the embodied CO2 in concrete an essential task. On the one hand we need concrete to sustain the development of civil infrastructure, particularly in emerging economies, but on the other hand our future is founded on our ability to preserve our environmental integrity. Blended cements opened new avenues in this regard by reducing the amount of clinker in cement. The UGC project aims to take this even further with its innovative two-fold strategy.
An important conceptualisation that helps understanding the UGC principles is to visualise construction as a volumetric process: if something is removed, something else needs to take its place.
Blended cements enable to reduce the embodied CO2 of concrete by replacing part of the carbon-intensive clinker with mineral additions. However, to do this at a worldwide scale, abundant sources of such SCMs are needed. Calcined clays and limestone are available in virtually unlimited quantities, and therefore technologies such as LC3 have great potential for scalability.
In addition to the use of blended cements, UGC aims to reduce the total cement content per cubic meter of concrete. This in turn implies increasing the volume of aggregates, and the need to compensate the workability loss with high performance superplasticizers. Hence, chemical admixtures are a cornerstone in the development of the next generation of environmentally friendly concrete formulations.