ANN ARBOR – Our Earth is heating up because of all the carbon dioxide in the air. But even if we can suck that much CO2 out of the atmosphere, there’s still a problem: What do we do with all of it once it’s recaptured?
The short answer is, put it into products. The longer answer is, put it into the right products. Specifically, concrete. This seemingly innocuous substance that holds up our buildings is actually the most used material of the modern era. More than 10 billion tons of concrete are produced each year. And luckily, scientists are showing that it’s our most promising place to stick all of that CO2, too.
The finding comes from new research out of the University of Michigan, which analyzed more than 20 separate CO2 utilization technologies. Of that pile, researchers found that only four technologies had a better than 50% chance of benefiting the environment. And the most promising two were in concrete.
But why concrete? Of course it’s a popular material in terms of scale, but what about concrete makes it a good place to store CO2? As Greg Keoleian, an author on the paper and director of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, explains, it comes down to the actual molecule of CO2.