Concrete is considered the backbone of modern civilization’s infrastructure. It’s the primary material for many of the world’s roads, bridges, dams, power plants and high-rise buildings.
Its downside is its carbon footprint. Carbon dioxide emissions from the billions of metric tons of concrete produced each year contribute significantly to the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – a buildup of gases that poses some potential environmental threats.
The national PBS News Hour program recently reported on efforts of inventors and engineers to use alternative materials to make new kinds of cement and concrete that would have a much smaller carbon footprint.
Narayanan Neithalath is one of the researchers interviewed in the report. Neithalath is an associate professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.
In the Laboratory for the Science of Sustainable Infrastructure Materials, Neithalath and his team are studying the fundamental microstructural characteristics of a variety of cementitious materials and the chemical reactions that enable the materials to bind to form concrete.
With support from the National Science Foundation, the team has made progress in developing multi-functional materials that could offer more environmentally sustainable forms of binders for concrete.
In a segment that is part of PBS News Hour’s “Breakthrough Series on Invention and Innovation,” a reporter explores the outlook for work by Neithalath and Tucson inventor David Stone to pave the way for viable concrete alternatives.