Concrete is a reliable and widely used material for construction, but with the increasing awareness of its environmental impact, many are wondering if it will ever be replaced. At Forming America, we continue to champion concrete reliability, but it's important to consider the alternatives that are being developed. Chris Cheeseman, professor of materials resource engineering at Imperial College London, points out that the key thing to consider is the large extent to which concrete is used around the world and is likely to continue to be used. Cement has a high carbon content, but concrete doesn't.
The enormous scale of manufacturing is so large that it's the scale at which it's used that makes it high in carbon. Blast furnace slag can replace 70-80% of cement, helping to improve concrete durability and emit much less heat in the process. Glass is a versatile inert material that can be used as a substitute for aggregate in concrete. Because it can be recycled and reused many times without any change in its chemical properties, post-consumer glass increases the durability of concrete and helps reduce waste from consumer landfills.
Even small amounts of paper cement are sufficient to combat some of the harmful effects of concrete production. Grasscrete is a process in which concrete floors or sidewalks are arranged in such a way that there are spaces between them for vegetation. This helps reduce erosion damage or soil washing caused by water runoff, which is a common and serious cause of concrete damage and requires additional repairs in the area. Concrete production has been speculated as an active contributor to greenhouse gas emissions due to the heavy-duty, diesel-powered trucks used for transporting aggregates. However, transportation only accounts for 7 percent of concrete CO2 emissions.
Robert Courland states that “virtually every concrete structure seen today will need to be replaced, costing us trillions of dollars”.When concrete is manufactured with microsilica and silica fumes, it is used for structures that are in contact with strong chemicals. It also provides gaps needed for excess stormwater, reducing damage to your concrete inlet from water flow over time. Green concrete is a form of environmentally friendly concrete that is manufactured with waste or waste materials from different industries and requires less energy for its production. It also means that transporting this type of concrete block requires much less energy compared to traditional concrete. Not every sign of damage deserves a complete breakage and replacement of a concrete installation.
A professional tip is to wash the concrete surface under pressure first, as this will reveal the condition of the surface and the severity of the cracks, making it easier to determine the best steps to take for the repaving or repair project. Whether it's substances such as Finite, microsilica and mycelium, there are many alternatives to traditional concrete being developed. While significant resources are being pooled in the research and development of these alternatives, it is unlikely that concrete will be replaced as the number one option for construction companies in the near future.