Changing the DNA: how building using a cement substitute is reducing global carbon emissions

Imperial College London July 2019 _39A0778

Imperial College London’s £90m biomedical engineering research centre is built from an unusual material. Thomas Lane reports on how the challenges of working with GGBS have been overcome to imposing effect

When the man who invented a cement substitute that slashes the carbon footprint of concrete donates £40m towards cost of a new research facility, naturally you would expect it to be built out of said material.

Michael Uren discovered that ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS), a waste product of steel manufacture, could be used as cement substitute in concrete. Up to 80% of the cement content can be replaced with GGBS, which makes a huge difference to the carbon footprint of the material because cement production is highly energy intensive – cement manufacture contributes about 8% of global COemissions. 

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