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Press Release 09-102

How Solid Is Concrete's Carbon Footprint?

Concrete may absorb more carbon dioxide than earlier estimates suggested

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Illustration showing that concrete absorbs carbon dioxide over time reducing carbon footprint.

Concrete's carbon footprint is fairly large due to two factors: the energy used to heat limestone (CaCO3) in kilns to form CaO, one of the major components in concrete, and the large quantities of CO2 released as the conversion of limestone to CaO proceeds.

However, a recent study has shown that over time, five percent, or more, of the lost CO2 reabsorbs back into the concrete, thereby reducing the ultimate carbon footprint.

Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation


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Photo of concrete pavement samples from engineer Liv Haselbach's lab.

Various concrete pavement samples from Washington State University engineer Liv Haselbach's laboratory.

Credit: Alan Abdulkader, Washington State University


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