LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 5, 2024) — Concrete is the most widely used man-made material on Earth, second only to water as the most-consumed resource on the planet. And, concrete production is responsible for 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy (CAER) Cementitious Materials Group develops and tests cements and concretes, seeking more environmentally friendly solutions for the future. CAER’s researchers are exploring a new way to utilize CO2 to improve the performance of cement and concrete.
Through this innovative project, and with support from PPL Corporation, CAER researchers are finding a way to use some of that CO2 through a new technology. The Center is developing a novel calcium-based sorbent — a material that picks up and retains liquid — to mineralize the CO2, which enhances the reactivity of the resulting powdered product. The sorbent is deployed using traditional spray dryer technology and coupled with high CO2 emitting industrial processes to create a high-performance material.
The hope is that this reactive powder will enhance the hydration and strength performance of standard cements, mortars and concretes.
“Eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from sources and processes readily used in the world today, such as electricity generation, transportation and manufacturing, requires research into innovative technologies that can capture and permanently store carbon dioxide,” said Aron Patrick, PPL director of Research and Development and a member of the UK CAER Advisory Board. “Concrete is ubiquitous in modern society and offers tremendous potential for permanent carbon sequestration.”
“Everyone who works in the cement and concrete space is aware of the concerns with carbon dioxide,” said Bob Jewell, associate director of CAER’s Cementitious Materials Group. “It’s a major challenge facing the industry. Our group is committed to creating more sustainable cement and concrete manufacturing processes, and this project holds great promise.
“I thank our project collaborators – PPL Corporation – for working with us on this endeavor. Innovation requires many partners, and the team at PPL has been both encouraging and supportive along the way. We appreciate their commitment to our work here at CAER.”
This is one of PPL’s more than 150 research and development projects currently underway. The company and its subsidiaries are pursuing a comprehensive clean energy strategy focused on driving innovation and advancing technologies that can be scaled safely, reliably and affordably. This includes carbon capture and sequestration technologies.
The title of the project is “Innovative Design of a Sorbent-Mineralization Technology, Addressing Industrial CO2 Capture for Value-Added Industrial Byproducts.”
PPL is a leading U.S. energy company focused on providing electricity and natural gas safely, reliably and affordably to more than 3.5 million customers in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia. PPL’s high-performing, award-winning utilities Kentucky Utilities Company, Louisville Gas and Electric Company, PPL Electric Utilities and Rhode Island Energy — are addressing energy challenges head-on by building smarter, more resilient and more dynamic power grids and advancing sustainable energy solutions.
Visit pplweb.com/research to learn more about innovative research projects happening across PPL’s companies.
As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.
In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.