We seem to be addicted to cement and concrete. Cement production is a huge producer of CO₂ emissions globally, around 8% and growing. Lime is a key ingredient in cement production but it comes with a heavy environmental cost. Here I have gathered up a series of little love stories, memories associated with cement and concrete and overlaid them on structures associated with cement and concrete. Ruined buildings represent destruction, waste, the world decaying. But they are also beautiful, as are the memories we have for cement and concrete.
Most of us have cement in the construction of our homes, it is one of the most common construction materials in the world. Besides huge energy needed and carbon dioxide emissions, cement is a heavy user of water. Quarrying for the raw materials creates silica dust in the air, a cause of respiratory disease. Our choices and our actions have consequences. My research kept returning me to cement and concrete. An everyday, familiar part of life. It’s easy to overlook the consequences of our choices, and choices are not simple, they are practical, convenient. But they are also emotional.
CO₂ is a by-product of the chemical reaction that turns limestone into lime. This needs very high temperatures to happen, around 1,500ﹾC, creating huge amounts of CO₂ and heat, produced from burning fossil fuels.
CaCO₃ + Heat = CaO + CO₂
Limestone + Heat = Lime + Carbon Dioxide