Many of the new technologies that can help us achieve a more sustainable future are resource intensive. Rosie Dodd, Product Footprinting and Circular Economy Lead at The Carbon Trust, discusses the importance of sustainable mining and the circular economy for achieving net zero.
Concrete is the building material of choice. It’s the second most used substance after water. Its use is responsible for 8% of global emissions, but a discovery by the University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre can reduce that.
Concrete becomes significantly stronger when graphene is added. The new mixture is called Concretene and has been used across England by Nationwide Engineering.
At Mayfield Depot in Manchester it has been used to create the world’s first Concretene mezzanine, where emissions were reduced by 30% compared to the use of concrete.
Material innovations like this are essential to reach net zero.
Every 88 minutes, enough solar energy hits the earth’s surface to meet our energy needs for a whole year. Conventional silicon solar panels have an efficiency of up to 22%. A new material called perovskite can significantly increase that efficiency. It can be made in a laboratory at room temperature, using abundant materials in easy to access places.
A perovskite-on-silicone tandem solar cell that converts 30% of solar energy into electricity has been developed by Oxford PV, a spin out from the University of Oxford. Commercial production begins in 2023, proving collaboration between industry and academia is essential in the drive towards net zero.
Neil Glover FIMMM CEng, President of the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining, discusses why materials engineering is strategic to the transition towards sustainability. From design and extraction, application and performance, to circularity and recycling, materials are critical to the full range of technologies that we need in order to achieve net zero.