AN innovative project led by Heriot-Watt University is accelerating efforts to decarbonise the energy-intensive cement industry.

In a collaboration with industry and government, the university will share technological solutions to support the decarbonisation of cement – the source of around 8% of global carbon emissions.

Dr Gillian Murray, deputy principal of business and enterprise at Heriot-Watt, said the university’s research in sustainable construction was already changing the landscape.

“Our spin-out company has launched a revolutionary brick made of 90% recycled construction and demolition waste,” she said. “By re-using valuable recycled materials from construction and demolition waste, Kenoteq has achieved a circular economy exemplar, and we are confident it will lead to a circular economy revolution for the construction sector.”

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Construction and the wider built environment accounts for around 40% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and the global construction market is expected to grow by $4.5 trillion US dollars up to 2030 – to reach $15.2trn – with China, India, US, and Indonesia expected to account for 60% of this growth.

“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,” said Dr Anas Bataw, director of Heriot-Watt’s Centre of Excellence in Smart Construction (CESC).

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The university’s research on decarbonising the cement industry is being led by CESC, which is based at its Dubai campus.

“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,” said Dr Bataw.

“As a university with a global footprint, collaborating with global industry partners, we are perfectly placed to share this research.”

The university is hosting a 48-hour global student Hackathon event during Expo 2020 Dubai [October 1, 2021 – March 31, 2022] as part of its support to the UK Pavilion. The Sustainability in Construction Hackathon on February 23 and 24 will bring together students and experts to tackle climate change issues and will include keynote speeches and workshops.