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Innovating to reduce the carbon footprint of cement production

Cement is a vital product for a country's economic development, the basic ingredient required to build housing and infrastructure.  Today, the world cement market represents more than 2 billion tonnes per year and demand for cement continues to increase, driven by economic and population growth and by the increase in urbanization, especially in emerging markets.  But, cement manufacturing is a major source of CO2 emissions. 

The cement industry as a whole is the source of around 5% of global CO2 emissions.

  • Around 60% of these emissions result from the transformation of limestone at high temperatures - ‘decarbonation' - to produce clinker, the basic component of cement. 
  • Approximately 40% are generated from the energy used in the burning process.

Project Aether will contribute to the European Union's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, identified as a priority under the LIFE + programme, with up to 2.3 M€. This 3 year project runs from 1st September 2010 to 31st August 2013.

The project consists of:

  • two industrial trials to produce Aether cement clinkers
  • testing on cements, concretes and mortars made with these new clinkers
  • active communication on the project and the results obtained, to a wide range of technical and non-technical audiences across Europe.

BRE has a distinguished track record of work on cements and concrete, having major inputs to the development of Codes and Standards, and carrying out major programmes on the durability of concrete, and the use of a range of binders in Portland cement formulations.  Over many years, BRE has been recognised as the UK's leading source of best practice guidance for the construction and built environment sectors.  Its publications (Digests, Information Papers and technical reports) are highly regarded and have underpinned UK and European Standards. 

BRE's Building Technology Group will assess concrete and mortars made using the new Aether cement, compared to otherwise equivalent concrete and mortars made using Portland cement. BRE will also facilitate industrial trials by establishing a UK user group involving precast and ready-mix concrete producers. BRE will carry out long-term durability testing, which is essential in establishing the feasibility for use of any new construction material. We will also carry out calculations to assess the total CO2 emissions associated with the manufacture of cement using Aether clinker, compared to Portland Cement. The project is led by Lafarge.

BRE project contacts:

Dr Keith Quillin            quillink@bre.co.uk

Dr Andrew Dunster     dunstera@bre.co.uk

Project website: