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Heathrow trials lower carbon concrete

by Mark Cantrell
A Cemex concrete mixer

The viability of using low carbon concrete in an airport setting is being put to the test at Heathrow.

Cemex is partnering with Ecocem GB, part of Ecocem Global, and the London airport to deliver the trial that will test the concrete’s durability and longevity in a true-life setting.

The move follows a seres of lab and plant trials.

Richard Kershaw, Cemex’s technical manager, said: “We were the first supplier in the UK to launch a net-zero concrete product, making us ideally situated to support Heathrow with their lower carbon concrete trial.

“We hope this trial will prove successful and demonstrate to the aviation sector the opportunities available to cut emissions during their development projects.”

Nigel Milton, Heathrow’s chief of staff and carbon, added: “Heathrow is once again serving as a test-bed for ground-breaking technologies, demonstrating global leadership with regards to sustainable travel.

“We’re committed to cutting carbon emissions on the ground as well as in the air, and we’re delighted to be hosting one of the first airport trials in the world to test lower carbon alternatives. I hope that this trial will help radically transform the built environment at Heathrow in the years to come.”

Initially, two lower carbon solutions will be tested: a pavement quality concrete (PQC) equivalent mix containing 50% GGBS, and a zero-clinker product.

The lower carbon concrete will be trialled at the airport in a pouring site under the watch tower as part of a phased process to test its strength and durability in the field.

The project, led by Jacobs and implemented by Cemex and Ecocem will see the lower carbon concrete assessed for use in main airport areas, groundworks and auxiliary purposes.

With aircraft taking off and landing every 45 seconds pre-pandemic, it is critical the concrete undergoes rigorous testing to ensure its strength and durability can withstand the pressures of the one of the world’s busiest airports.

The aim is for the trial’s findings to be used to set out a blueprint that other airports, keen to reduce carbon from all facets of their operation, can follow.

Mark Till, Ecocem GB’s national sales manager, said: “Our technical solutions have long helped large scale infrastructure projects to reduce carbon emissions across Europe. Having the opportunity to partner with Heathrow airport on a project with huge potential in the UK, and for the aviation sector, is a testament to the innovation of our products and team.”

Richard Moore, Europe aviation engineering lead at Jacobs called the trial an “exciting milestone” in the development of lower carbon infrastructure at the airport.

“It is the culmination of four years of research and planning towards these initial trials, which will form the foundation of further work exploring other lower carbon products and materials,” he added.

“Testing the materials in a range of airport infrastructure applications, not just runway and taxiway pavements, allows us to maximise the opportunity to reduce embedded carbon in a wide variety of concrete types.

“Building on the success of the trial, we look forward to upscaling to usage in airfield projects being delivered by Ferrovial Construction, Dyer and Butler and other major programme partners across the airport.”

Image: Sundry Photography/Shutterstock

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