Materials researchers work on climate-friendly concrete


Zurich/Bern – A group of materials researchers led by Franco Zunino wants to reduce the CO2 emissions of concrete. To this end, the cement content is drastically reduced and savings are made on binders. Zunino has received an Ambizione grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation for his research.

A group of materials researchers led by Franco Zunino from the Institute of Building Materials at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich is researching compositions for concrete that can significantly reduce its CO2 emissions. The world’s most important building material is responsible for up to 9 percent of man-made CO2 emissions, the Swiss National Science Foundation(SNSF) informs in a statement. He is supporting the research with an Ambizione grant to Zunino.

For the development of a climate-friendly concrete, the researchers are relying on two approaches. The first involves reducing the particularly CO2-intensive cement content of concrete by 60 to 70 percent. Novel chemical additives are used for this purpose, in particular so-called polymer dispersants. In the second approach, the use of binders is reduced.

In its research, the group is “working closely with a major cement manufacturer,” the SNSF explains. An alternative to concrete is unrealistic, according to Zunino. For example, it would take “a forest the size of India” to replace concrete with wood. Even a completely new building material would hardly be able to establish itself “on the streets in Nigeria, where the concrete is perhaps also mixed together with bare hands”. With a climate-friendly concrete suitable for everyday use, however, “the industry would have a solution in hand to implement its CO2 targets and save CO2 taxes.” hs