G8 Research Councils Initiative on Multilateral Research Funding

Liya Zheng

Supervisor: Professor Paul Fennell

Funding: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

After water, concrete is the largest global commodity, and a key to development. The production of cement, the binding agent in concrete, contributes about 7–10% of current global anthropogenic CO2 emissions, mainly as a result of calcination of raw material limestone and burning fuels to maintain high temperature in a kiln during the production of cement clinker. These emissions are expected to increase by 50% by 2020 and more than double by 2050.

The project's aim to is to develop a redesigned cement plant with improved material efficiency, including reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and enhanced waste disposal (alternative fuels). These objectives will be met by redesigning the manufacturing process, enhancing the re-use and recycling of waste concrete and producing longer lasting products, by enhancing the mineral properties of clinker. The scientific quality of the consortium is based on all PIs working at the forefront of their fields.

The redesign will replace air with produced oxygen within the combustion process. Oxy-fuel combustion involves burning fuel in a mixture of recycled CO2 and pure O2 instead of air and results in a flue gas that is composed mainly of CO2 and water vapour, which is easily separated at low cost by condensation process. Good-quality cements have been successfully produced in an oxy-fuel atmosphere in Professor Paul Fennell’s lab. They have similar phase and chemical compositions to CEM I, and comparable compressive strength to the cement produced in air and to commercially available CEMEX CEM I as well.