NIST Announces Low Carbon Cements and Concretes Consortium

By Chantal Polsonetti

Acquisition or Partnership

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, in support of efforts to develop standards for low carbon construction materials, announced Cements and Concretes Consortiumestablishment of the Low Carbon Cements and Concretes Consortium. The Consortium will bring together stakeholders to identify and address measurement and standards needs related to low carbon cements and concretes used to reduce the overall greenhouse gas emissions from cement and concrete products. The Consortium efforts are intended to develop measurement solutions and standards to improve measurement confidence, establish measurement traceability, and enable comparability in the measurements to quantify carbon and carbonate in low carbon cements and concretes.

Cement is one of the most widely used materials and a critical component of roads, bridges, and buildings. Cement manufacturing is also a major contributor to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through both energy use and calcination reactions. To help meet net zero climate goals, industry is developing a variety of techniques to reduce the net amount of CO2 emitted from cement and concrete manufacturing. For example, one approach is to change the composition of the cement to reduce the total manufacturing process emissions. Another approach is to take advantage of carbonation, the uptake of CO2, by curing concrete under a CO2 atmosphere or injecting CO2during the mixing process.

The initial focus of this consortium is to evaluate, develop, and standardize methods to characterize and quantify the carbon and carbonates in new low carbon cements and concretes. Test methods to specifically measure carbon in these materials will be explored. A later focus of the consortium will be to evaluate the suitability of current measurement standards to measure the material, mechanical, structural, and durability properties and, where appropriate, develop new test methods needed to help enable acceptance of new low carbon cements and concretes in the marketplace. NIST and industrial partners will perform research together with the following four goals:

  • Evaluate the suitability of current ASTM standards to measure carbon, including specifically measuring carbon in cements, concretes, and the associated starting materials such as aggregates
  • Accurately measure the amount of carbon uptake by a material during CO2-curing processes. Validate the robustness and repeatability of the measurement method
  • Use these measurements as a foundation to propose tests(s) that can be standardized through the ASTM consensus process
  • Evaluate the applicability of current material, mechanical, structural, and durability tests used for cements and concretes to new low carbon cements and concretes. If needed, develop new tests, or point out why old tests are not needed to help enable acceptance of these new materials in the marketplace.

Further information on participating in the consortium is available here.

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