This short video describes how concrete made with Portland cement is a huge contributor to carbon emissions, accounting for about 8% of emissions globally.
Karen Scrivener is the speaker in the video and she explains the reasons behind the huge carbon emissions. The main reasons are its prevalence as the second most used material on the globe and the breakdown of calcium carbonate in limestone as a part of the production process.
Karen proposes that the use of LC3, a new type of cement material using less calcium carbonate, could reduce carbon emissions drastically, making a significant impact on reducing carbon dioxide emissions globally.
This video defines an excellent example of engineering and industrial innovation to tackle part of the climate change problem.
The video effectively talks through the science of why Portland cement is an issue, so this could be a great video to watch when discussing chemistry and the environment.
Students should be familiar with the chemical structure of calcium carbonate.
There are subtitles available in 21 languages.
It may be helpful to have students diagram out the Portland cement production process next to the new LC3 process to help them understand the difference in carbon dioxide emissions.
Consider having students research other materials from the construction sector, and discuss how they contribute to climate change. Students can think of ways to innovate and reduce the climate change impact from other materials such as lumber and steel.
This 4-minute TED talk discusses the carbon emissions from the concrete and cement industries, and how a new innovative concrete technology (called LC3), which emits ~40% less carbon emissions than traditional concrete production, can be manufactured worldwide using existing technologies. This is an interesting example of industrial innovation. This resource is recommended for teaching.
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
HS-ESS3-2 Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
ETS1: Engineering Design
MS-ETS1-1 Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
HS-ETS1-3 Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.