Cement production contributes about 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions. However, this emissions supply is about to be netted off. The world’s first zero emissions cement, has been invented at Cambridge University, by three research engineers, -Dr Cyrille Dunant, Dr Pippa Horton and Professor Julian Allwood. Their invention, filed for a patent and awarded new research funding is the world’s first emissions-free route to recycle Portland cement.

It has remained a great industrial challenge to replace today’s cement with more sustainable materials in order to achieve a safe climate with zero emissions from that industry. The options to make cement with reduced emissions, mainly based on mixing new reactive cement (clinker) with other supplementary materials, has not achieved a no-emissions reaction process, which has been achieved by this invention.

The Cambridge Electric Cement is made in a virtuous recycling loop, that not only eliminates the emissions of cement production, but also saves raw materials, and even reduces the emissions required in making lime-flux.

The innovation will enable a rapid transition to zero emissions based on using today’s technologies, and even faster than the new energy technologies of hydrogen and carbon storage. The invention which has received a research grant of £1.7m is expected to provide increased scientific understanding of the new process, including probing the range of concrete wastes that can be processed into the Cement, while evaluating how the process interacts with steel making.

According to Professor Allwood, ‘If Cambridge Electric Cement lives up to the promise it has shown in early laboratory trials, it could be a turning point in the journey to a safe future climate. Combining steel and cement recycling in a single process powered by renewable electricity, this could secure the supply of the basic materials of construction to support the infrastructure of a zero emissions world and to enable economic development where it is most needed.’