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Keeping you informed about the TecEco cement and kiln projects.  Issue 50, 30 September 2005

Rosendale Natural Cements - Vindication?

For most of the 19th century and more than half of the 20th, natural cement from Rosendale was a prominent binder used in the construction of many buildings, monuments and structures. The Rosendale natural cement was rich in magnesium because the rock from which it was made was a dolomitic limestone. On analysis Rosendale cements contain 14-30% magnesium determined as the oxide present mainly as brucite, carbonates of magnesium and iron like sjoegrenite and biotite! The magnesium minerals have resulted in extreme durability (heard that before from us?)

Rosendale cements were made in shaft kilns and the periclase that formed was sufficiently fine grained to hydrate rapidly enough so that dimensional distress was not an issue.

According to Laura Powers in "A New Look at an Old Cement", published in the proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Cement Microscopy who is doing some detailed work on the cements "The construction of the Erie Canal in New York State began in 1817 and led to the discovery of natural cement rock in Madison and Onondaga Counties in 1818. Natural cement rock is limestone or dolomite that contains enough clay to give the sintered rock hydraulic properties. Soon after, during the survey of the course of the Delaware and Hudson Canal, the cement rock at Rosendale was discovered. The first production of Rosendale cement was in about 1823 and the major cement works were established in 1828. The first material produced at Rosendale was used locally in the construction of the Delaware and Hudson Canal. By the late 1890’s, almost half of the total production of natural cement in the United States came from Rosendale (1). At its peak in the mid to late 1800’s, the cement business in Rosendale involved at least 19 companies. As late as 1903, there were 65 natural cement plants in operation. In part, the cement business thrived because Rosendale was located close to New York City and transportation on the Hudson River was cheap. Another major reason for the cement boom was the desirable engineering properties of concrete made with Rosendale cement. This quickly led to its widespread use in major construction projects in the eastern United States.

By the early 1800’s, New York City was experiencing tremendous population growth. The Croton Aqueduct Project was one of the largest and most complicated engineering projects of its time. Construction began in 1837 and work was essentially complete by 1842. The water-delivery system was intended to provide New York City with a reliable supply of clean water at a time when the city’s population was growing rapidly, disease was rampant, devastating fires occurred frequently, and the existing water supply had become polluted. The aqueduct was an enclosed masonry structure that brought water to Manhattan from the Croton River Dam in northern Westchester County, a distance of about forty miles. Water distribution was by gravity feed. The system comprised a dam, six tunnels, one hundred and fourteen culverts, bridges over several valleys, the Receiving Reservoir, which held up to 180 million gallons of water, and the Distributing Reservoir. The water system operated until 1940, when the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation ordered it drained and filled the reservoir to create the Great Lawn.

The High Bridge over the Harlem River at 173rd Street is the oldest standing bridge in New York City. It was built to carry the Old Croton Aqueduct over the Harlem River. The river is 620-feet wide at this location. The bridge is 1450-feet long and 138-feet high. The center masonry arches were replaced in the 1920’s by a single steel span because the arches were considered a hazard to navigation."

Another major structure built with Rosendale cements that was commenced in 1846 was Fort Jefferson near key west in Florida. Rosendale cements were used because it was a common construction material for large masonry and concrete structures in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, being prized for its fast set.

Rosendale cements were also recognized for their exceptional durability, even under severe exposures. At Fort Jefferson much of the 150 year-old Rosendale cement mortar remains in excellent condition, in spite of the severe ocean exposure and over 100 years of neglect. Fort Jefferson is nearly a half mile in circumference and has a total lack of expansion joints, yet shows no signs of cracking or stress. The first phase of a major restoration is currently in progress.

Fort Jefferson, built over 150 years ago 70 miles off Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. The mortars and concretes on the site are made from Rosendale Concretes containing 14-30% MgO (Google Maps)

Mortar Miracle?

We never thought we would get to a 1:8-10 binder aggregate ratio for mortars with our Eco-Cements but we are and that is very exciting. Watch this newsletter for more details as the test results come through.

The mortars we are testing have been made using an as yet secret waste that we will be negotiating the rights to with a large company.

Sustainability in the making!

TecEco Looking for Staff

Our managing director John Harrison is looking for a personal assistant who has a knowledge of tax and accounting, cares about the environment and hopefully knows the difference between science and dogma!

Please apply if you are passionate about solving the global warming problem.

Post Doctoral Position Possibly Available.

TecEco are possibly looking for a post doctoral to take up a position at an Australian university - that is if the university can agree as to the terms of the engagement.

Global Warming

Peter Singer and Peter Ellyard both point out in their respective books: "One World, The Ethics of Globalization" and "Ideas for the New Millennium," that we live on one planet; and must address global issues as one. Whilst governments are talking about the problem of global warming and more specifically who is to carry the burden of reducing CO2 emissions very little is actually being done to do anything about removing the gas from the air. We are not going to really solve the climate change problem associated with too much CO2 in the air unless we tackle it with both emissions reduction and sequestration.

Ask the Venetians and they will tell you the sea level has risen nearly a foot in the last century; that's on top of the swamp Venice is built on sinking. Venetians pin their hopes of saving their city on technology to be delivered by engineers and other scientists who are building structures that will tame the tides.

Kyoto addresses emissions from the consumption of fossil fuels and as the price of energy rises, the treaty presents a win win situation to member countries as improving energy efficiency is economically sensible. Taxes obviated are no different to incentives and can be traded. The Tokyo proposal that countries are rewarded for reducing emissions is therefore to some degree political speak.

George Bush wants an agreement that includes all major contributors to greenhouse emissions, particularly emerging economies such as China and Brazil. There is some merit in this but he should also recognize that the US has been the biggest contributor to the creation of the problem in the past. The CO2 is the air now has been put there by almost two centuries of emissions by western countries. If pushing more of the responsibility onto the Chinese who will soon be the largest emitters is what is necessary to get the US involved, then let the political point scoring continue.

The level of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen to around 380 parts per million over two centuries of abuse. To reduce this historically high proportion we must not only curtail emissions significantly but also actively remove or sequester the gas.

James Watt 1736-1819

Technology got us into the trouble we are in; James Watt, invented the steam engine powered by coal, then we figured out oil had a higher energy value for a given weight and being a liquid, was easier to use. Many inventions later we have consumed around half to two thirds of the known oil supplies and our industrial revolution as we knew it is running out of energy.

Although we are moving into a new era of services rather than goods, transport is at the same time taking over from production and we still consume energy like there is no tomorrow.

My name is Aubrey John Weston Harrison and the solution is my invention Eco-Cement. Using this new building material, we can, as Fred Pearce in New Scientist magazine put it, make our cities greener than the Amazon forest. Solving the global problems has to be something that is profitable to do, something sensible, beneficial, something we do every day resulting in improvements in our lives. Every day we re building somewhere everywhere and next to water concrete is the most used material on the planet. Nearly 15 billion tonnes of it are produced every year which is more than two tonnes for every man woman and child.

Nature is the greatest economist of all time, animals and plants live together in climax communities, the waste from one becoming the food or home for another. Carbon plays a major role not just in the composition of all animals and plants: it is more often than not the atom most common in their homes. When one considers that trees are made of carbon as are the shells of many marine animals the obvious clue is that we too should find a use for carbon dioxide waste so it is not longer emitted into the air in staggering tonnages as we burn fossil fuels (substantially the remains of previous life) that are changing the climate of the planet that we so depend upon.

As a geologist I am perhaps unlike some readers aware of one other clue. During previous epochs of global warming caused by high CO2 levels usually the result of volcanism, nature put away hugh amounts as coal and petroleum, both of which resources we are rapidly burning thereby releasing fossil C that is combining with today's O2 to make CO2 (C + O2 => CO2).

The way to get rid of CO2 out of the air is to find uses for it, Eco-cements sequesters carbon especially if it is made without releases of CO2 to the atmosphere. When composites bound with Eco-Cement set they do so by absorbing up to eight times their weight of the gas and water, efficiently binding many industrial wastes together to make building materials.

TecEco my company hope to make Eco-Cement using free non fossil fuel energy provided we can raise enough money to develop the technology. An added benefit for the world is that we could then use many of our industrial and domestic wastes converting them into useful building materials. Survival technology like this has to be worth considering by government and private enterprise. We use building materials every day and concrete is used in vast tonnages Starting with less than a billion tonnes of mafic magnesium minerals and running TecEco's new tech kiln for less than twenty cycles the global atmospheric CO2 problem can be solved.

We are looking for companies to take up the challenge of demonstrating that we can solve the problem of global warming and be better off economically doing so. It also remains to be seen what government will be the first to recognize that the way forward is through massive sequestration as well as energy efficiently and reduction. Without sequestration on a massive scale, energy rationing will probably become necessary. Who then will be the global policeman?

Those of our readers who are captains of industry or think of themselves as leaders in government - demonstrate by your actions what leadership really is. We do not have to accept global warming as an inevitable consequence of or excessive energy consumption in the past; there is a way forward that involves mimicking nature by using carbon and to do so, developing and using TecEco Eco-Cement and kiln technology.

Popular Science or Wacky Science?

I am concerned that a reputable magazine like popular science can lend credence to wacky science without rigorous examination in their effort to get more readers. In the August 2005 issue (see http://www.popsci.com.au/environment/article/2005-06/how-earth-scale-engineering-can-save-planet) there was a story titled "How Earth-Scale Engineering Can Save the Planet" in which the headline and first few columns give credence to David Keith's idea of putting a giant dish up in the sky to shade the planet. Keith works as a physicist and economist at the University of Calgary and ought to have more sense. Unlike other technologies presented there is no balance in the story for this idea or examination of associated risks or problems that I would expect from a leading science magazine. For example the amount of energy with associated emissions to make such a dish and get it up there, the reduction in food production and the political problems are not mentioned.

The solution is here on earth, is not wacky and would cost us no more than we would spend anyway. It involves how we do things every day in and economic way. All we have to do is look to nature to learn how simple the answer is and solve global warming the same way as nature has in the past by finding uses for carbon.

The built environment is an obvious choice because of the huge volume of materials flows. Next to water concrete is the most used substance on the planet and some 15 billion tonnes of it are produced every year so make a cement that sets by absorbing CO2. Capture CO2 when you make it. The result is sequestration on a massive scale. If the cement is benign like TecEco Eco-Cement invented by me, then an added benefit is waste utilization as well.

Only engineers with their penchant for contraptions would appreciate David Keith's wacky idea of a big mirror and “geoengineering” Earth’s climate. Tinkering on a global scale is fraught with danger and should be off the radar screen of the US Presidents Climate Change Technology Program where it was presented.

Peter Singer in his book "One World, The Ethics of Globalization" mentioned in the previous article discusses the lack of involvement of the US in global aid, forums, international law and addressing the global warming issue. There is this tendency to go it alone (Afghanistan and Iraq?). It would add tremendous momentum if the US were to stop playing the lone fool with too much but waning power and join the international community to help solve some of these global issues. In 2001 George W Bush has set up a committee of scientists to technically solve the problem. Maybe he thinks America has some right to put up a giant sunshade or a whole bunch of mirrors affecting the rest of us! When is the Presidents Committee going to wake up to the solutions? Anybody out there know how we can get to them?

The solution is to mimic natures previous solutions here on earth and use carbon to create our own built environment.