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Look around, and you’ll see concrete everywhere — in buildings, parking garages, and sidewalks.

Producing all that concrete releases a lot of carbon pollution because it’s made with cement. 

“On a global scale, if you’re looking at various industrial sectors, cement has one of the largest emission footprints of the industrial sectors,” says John Northington, director of the National Carbon Capture Center in Alabama.

The facility, which is run by Southern Company, was established by the Department of Energy to test new technologies that can capture and store carbon pollution.

It recently tested a process that was developed by a company called CarbonBuilt. The technology uses less cement. And it takes carbon dioxide pollution from power plants and other sources and permanently embeds it in the new concrete.

The tests demonstrated that this process can cut the carbon footprint of concrete by more than half.

“And so [it’s] a pretty significant opportunity to reduce emissions in a sector that globally produces a larger fraction of global emissions related to CO2.” Northington says.

Soon the technology could be used commercially. A plant near Birmingham plans to start producing concrete blocks with this process early next year.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media