Decarbonisation research project launched in UK

By Leila Steed18 May 2021

DPC Wellingborough AMA Research has forecast that the UK’s precast concrete sector will grow by 18% to £2.3 billion by 2024.

Innovate UK has launched a research and development project for the British Government’s Ministry of Justice (MoJ), which aims to reduce the emissions inherent in precast concrete methodology and materials.

According to the publicly-owned company, the manufacture and use of precast concrete products is said to be responsible for up to 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions. 

Jonny Voon, head of the Sustainable Innovation Fund at Innovate UK, said, “Decarbonisation of concrete manufacturing is fundamental to helping the UK government achieve its Net Zero ambition of slashing emissions by 78% by 2035. Innovate UK is proud to support the project and an exciting consortium with their world-leading efforts.”

Innovate UK’s Decarbonising Precast Concrete (DPC) project will involve a group of construction industry specialists, including manufacturing design company Akerlof and material manufacturer Forterra.

The collaboration also includes façade construction specialist PCE, engineering firm Curtins and sustainability consultants Accelar.

According to a joint statement released by all the parties involved in the project, “traditional concrete manufacture is a fuel-intensive, electro-intensive and therefore CO2 intensive process.”

The DPC project team said, “While addressing its material makeup to lower manufacturing and embodied emissions is critical to decarbonising, the pathway to net zero relies upon a holistic view: with intelligent design that minimises material use without affecting a structure’s integrity, as well as an understanding of a product’s transport and installation emissions.”

The DPC project forms part of the Ministry of Justice’s future capital programmes.

It comprises three stages, starting with the Design Solution Optimisation stage, which aims to minimise the materials used in concrete production.

Next, the Material Development and Testing stage will use new cement and clinker substitution technologies and admixtures to develop low-carbon concrete, while the final stage will look at the production and logistics involved in manufacturing concrete for ways to further reduce carbon emissions.

Gareth Jones, head of MMC & Technical Services at the Ministry of Justice, said, “This study demonstrates how collaboration through the supply chain can bring subject matter experts together to develop innovative solutions for decarbonising. We look forward to utilising and embedding such solutions in the MoJ’s New Prison Programme.’’

The team said it was its intention to make the outcomes of the project transferable to other sectors and development types, “including student and rental housing, and major health and education infrastructure.”

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