Storing CO2 in Built Infrastructure: CO2 Carbonation of Precast Concrete Products Email Page
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Performer:  University of Michigan Location:  Ann Arbor, Michigan
Project Duration:  10/01/2017 – 09/30/2020 Award Number:  FE0030684
Technology Area:  Carbon Use and Reuse Total Award Value:  $1,249,999
Key Technology:  CO2 Use DOE Share:  $999,999
Performer Share:  $250,000

'Bendable' concrete
'Bendable' concrete

Project Description

Regents of the University of Michigan will advance the technical understanding of carbon dioxide (CO2) incorporation into novel cementitious materials for the development of high-value precast concrete products that provide a net reduction in carbon emissions. The CO2 storage potential of engineered cementitious composite (ECC) used for the production of railroad ties will be evaluated in this project. ECC is a unique type of fiber-reinforced cement-based composite that is superior to traditional cementitious materials, exhibiting high-tensile ductility and excellent durability due to its innate ability to self-heal via mineral carbonation reactions. Researchers will ultimately develop a new carbonation process and a new ECC composition with stored CO2 that can be applied to other precast built infrastructure elements in addition to rail ties. The CO2 carbonation efficiency of ECC materials will be evaluated under varying system conditions. Industrial solid waste products, such as fly ash, steel slag, and mine tailings, will also be evaluated for CO2 carbonation efficiency and for use as potential additives to ECC to further reduce CO2 emissions of precast concrete products. Results of these studies, along with an evaluation of key mechanical properties of carbonated ECC materials, will be used to develop precast rail ties containing ECC with maximal carbonation efficiency and robust mechanical performance. Full-scale ECC rail ties will be field tested to evaluate their durability under typical loads. Net CO2 emission reductions attributable to CO2 storage in the novel ECC precast rail ties will be evaluated through completion of a full life-cycle analysis.

Project Benefits

Carbon dioxide storage in novel cementitious materials, such as ECC, via mineral carbonation is an economically viable opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions and provide new low-CO2 emission infrastructure products that offer longer service life than currently available products. As a result of this project, a new carbonation process, a new ECC composition with stored CO2, and a new rail tie product will be developed. The rail tie will be substantially lower in energy footprint, and potentially carbon negative, due to the stored CO2, the use of waste heat and fly ash from coal-based power plants, the elimination of prestressing steel, the recycling of waste streams from steel and mining industries, and the use of plant fibers.

Presentations, Papers, and Publications

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager Bruce Lani:
Technology Manager Lynn Brickett:
Principal Investigator Brian Robert Ellis: