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Australia begins first-ever trial to create roads through industrial waste

PTI Melbourne | Updated on June 18, 2019 Published on June 18, 2019

A representational image. Tasmania has created a road made from recycled waste   -  @KingboroughTas

The City of Sydney has launched a trial to use industrial waste from coal-fired power stations and steel manufacturing into roads.

Australia’s most populous city Sydney is conducting the world’s first-ever trial to construct roads using industrial waste from coal-fired power stations and steel manufacturing, an initiative that can lower the pollution and greenhouse gases emitted during the production of concrete for laying roads.

Concrete contributes 7 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions and in 2018 the world produced about 4.1 billion tonnes of cement, which contributed about 3.5 billion tonnes of Carbon dioxide, according to researchers.

“Geopolymer” made from fly ash and blast furnace slag, generates just 300 kilograms of CO2 per tonne of cement, compared with the 900 kilograms from the traditional cement production, they said.

It also saves the equivalent of the electricity used by an average household every two weeks.

Once the trials are successful, researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, and the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) will use it to create the first set of industry guidelines for geopolymer concrete.

During the UN’s climate change conference - COP24 - various policy makers and environmentalists reached a consensus that there was a need for the annual emissions from cement to fall by at least 16 per cent by 2030.

Sydney Mayor on the project

Sydney’s Mayor Clover Moore said that projects like geopolymer trial can result in new products that make a real difference in slang carbon emissions.

I’m proud that the city of Sydney was Australia’s first carbon-neutral local government and that we’re continuing to take significant steps to reduce our carbon footprint, she said.

Stating that 70 per cent of the concrete produced today were used for pavements and footpaths, Moore said there is a great potential to further lower the emissions from the operations.

“We’re continually working with concrete suppliers to reduce the amount of pollution and greenhouse gases emitted during the production of concrete for our local roads, and we already use sustainable green concrete for all our footway renewal works — which adds up to 25,000m2 per year, she said.

While research on geopolymer has been undertaken since the ‘90s, but its only now that it is being explored as a product that is not only better for the environment, but also commercially viable.

Published on June 18, 2019
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