Route map for low carbon concrete

Alkali-activated binders for precast and ready-mixed concrete products: A route map to standardisation, certification and guidance.

Approximately 5% of the global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions caused by humans currently arise from cement production. As a consequence, there is commercial interest in developing low-carbon cements and related binders suitable for use ‘at scale’ in concrete production.

One variety of these is known as ‘alkali-activated binders’ or ‘AA binders’. Alkali-activated binders and concretes produce less CO2 in their manufacture than conventional Portland cement (PC) and they thus offer potential as one of several mainstream alternatives to PC. There is a clear need for (and some progress towards) standardisation and certification of AA binders and concretes. However, there are a range of possible routes and approaches open to the binder manufacturers. As is already the case with established Portland-based cements, supporting guidance, experience in use and codes of practice will ultimately be essential to underpin the wider acceptance of AA binders as a construction material.

This briefing paper by BRE experts Andrew Dunster and David Gall summarises the current position in this emerging area of construction technology from a UK perspective. It draws on BRE’s expertise and provides essential support for those likely to be involved in developing, adopting and utilising these binders commercially. This publication is intended to inform purchasers and specifiers of concrete and concrete products and those with a wider interest in the procurement of sustainable construction products.

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