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Decarbonising cement by 2040

With the decarbonisation of the construction industry a priority in hitting many government climate change targets, a ground-breaking project to make cement green has been unveiled.

Led by Heriot-Watt University, the innovative government, industry and academic collaboration includes partners such as the UAE ministry of Climate Change and Environment, UK Department of International Trade, HSBC, Institute of Civil Engineers, American Concrete Institute and the New York University of Abu Dhabi, alongside leading developers and construction experts.

The research, which is being led by the Centre of Excellence in Smart Construction (CESC) based at the University’s Dubai campus, will focus on four key areas: materials, such as cement, and waste management; building permits and regulations; new technologies; and education.

Cement is the source of about 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, according to think tank Chatham House. The majority of CO2 is produced as a result of decomposition of limestone. The remainder comes from the combustion of fuel and indirect emissions from electricity consumption. The collaboration will look to deliver net zero emissions across the UAE by 2040 before being rolled out globally.

Dr Anas Bataw, director of the Centre of Excellence in Smart Construction at Heriot-Watt University, said: “During the global transition to net zero, the construction sector needs to dramatically reduce the amount of carbon embedded in new infrastructure and buildings, ultimately reducing its wider impact on the environment.

“As we develop advanced material, technological solutions and educational initiatives that will support the cement decarbonisation journey for the UAE, we’ll be sharing these insights on a global scale to support worldwide decarbonisation efforts. As a university with a global footprint, collaborating with global industry partners, we are perfectly placed to share this research.”

Feeding into the project, Heriot-Watt University is hosting a 48-hour global student Hackathon event during Expo 2020 Dubai as part of its support to the UK Pavilion.

The Sustainability in Construction Hackathon, running over 23rd & 24th February 2022, will bring together students and experts to tackle climate change issues and will include keynote speeches, workshops and panel sessions featuring distinguished experts from across the industry. At stake is a 15,000AED scholarship per team member up to a maximum of five team members.

The Hackathon complements the University’s wider sustainability agenda which includes the £20M Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC), funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) on behalf of the UK Government.

Click here for more information and to sign up to the Hackathon.

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