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Keeping you informed about the TecEco Cement and Tec-Kiln projects. Issue 52, 22 December 2005
To all our friends out there - thank you for your support. Have a happy Christmas and wonderful new year.
Your idea for CO2 sequestration is beautiful and would effectively harmonise with the economy, whereas most other 'green' ideas are seen by the powers-that-be as a potential threat to their profitability. It beats me as to why your idea has not been snapped up. I guess it boils down to who you know, not what you know, and in your case - who you don't (yet) know.
TecEco are currently seeking people who are building houses or for that matter anything that involves cement preferably living in Australia who want to be Guinea pigs to try out our technology on a no liability basis. Apart from the fact that you would be helping us introduce very important technologies to the world there may be a tax break if you do.
In Australia the government has over a number of years provided a number of taxation concessions in order to promote expenditure on Research and Development (R and D) activities by companies. Concessions include:
*Feedstock expenditure is the cost of materials, goods and supplies intended to be the subject of a process or transformation. In the case of building and construction this means materials. Net feedstock expenditure is the feedstock used in an R and D activity less the market value of any product produced by the R and D activity.
From the above it follows that when the market value of the product produced exceeds the cost of the feedstock used in the R and D activity the feedstock is only 100% deductible. Should the cost of feedstock exceed the market value of the product produced, then the excess in deductable at 125%.
For example, a small company with no income incurs eligible R and D expenses of $100,000 can either have a carried forward tax loss of $125,000 ($100,000 X 125%) or it can elect to receive a tax refund of $37,500 ($100,000 X 125% X 30%).
To qualify for the Australian R and D Tax Concessions the company and the R and D activity have to be registered by the Australian Industry Research and Development Board.
In order to be registered a number of eligibility criteria have to be met. These are:
Advance registration with the Australian Industry Research and Development
Board is advisable in the case of many of our Guinea Pig clients as there may
be occasions when there is some doubt.
Guinea Pig Pty Ltd (Australian Guinea Pig) is in the business of building houses.
Australian Guinea Pig decides to co-operate with TecEco to determine and evaluate the properties of a house built using Tec-Cement concretes for the slab, Eco-Cements for the mortars and renders and Eco-Cement concrete blocks.
Australian Guinea Pig develops a R and D plan (this does not have to be very long) and then lodges an advance registration form with the Industry Research and Development Board for which it receives approval.
Australian Guinea Pig then spends
The house upon completion has a market value of $150,000.
As the product of the R&D activity (the house) has a market value more than the cost of the feedstock (supplies) the materials are tax deductible at the 100% rate, rather than at 125%.
Since relevant R and D expenditure exceeds $20,000 the expenditure on wages and laboratory testing expenses is claimable at 125% (assuming no incremental increase).
The company can therefore claim a tax deduction for $131,250 [$50,000 + ($60,000 + $5,000) * 125%]. If the project had not been registered as an R and D activity the tax deductible amount would only have been a maximum of $115,000 ($50,000 + $60,000 + $5,000).
By claiming the development as R and D Guinea Pig gains the benefit of additional tax deductions of $16,250 ($131,250-$115,000) which in turn could save the company a further $4,875 in income tax ($16,250 X 30% i.e. additional tax deductible amount X company tax rate).
The above is intended to provide only a general overview and is not a guarantee that the construction of a house using TecEco's new cement formulations will automatically qualify for the R and D taxation concessions in Australia. Further information on the R and D tax concessions can be obtained from the AusIndustry web site at www.ausindustry.gov.au or from the Australian Taxation Office web site at www.ato.gov.au. Similar provisions apply in many other countries.
Anybody interested in building and exemplar after reading this article please contact TecEco at john.harrison at tececo.com
Please replace at in our email address above with @, then write out the address with no spaces between the characters. (Our email address is released in this non-standard format, in order to foil the harvesting software used by spammers to capture the e-mail addresses of their victims.)
John Harrison has degrees in science and economics, is the managing director and chairman of TecEco Pty. Ltd. and is known around the world for the invention of Tec, Eco and Enviro-Cements. He is an authority on sustainable materials for the built environment, has been a speaker at many conferences and is committed to finding ways of “materially” improving the sustainability of the built environment.
Concrete engineering has traditionally mainly been concerned with compressive strength, with durability and other issues such as shrinkage and cracking of lesser importance. Given the need for sustainable practices within the construction industry brought on by global warming and the inevitable decline from peak oil, a broadening of the debate is appropriate. More consideration needs to be given to the amount of energy that is embodied in structures, the operating efficiency of buildings over their lifetime and the atmospheric impacts of carbon dioxide and other releases.
The obvious reason for re-examining cements is that their manufacture contributes around 10% to global warming (Pearce 1997). Less obvious reasons are the exciting contribution that concretes with improved properties could make to reducing the lifetime energy of buildings and the reduction in transport energies and emissions that would ensue if local low impact materials and wastes found on or near buildings sites were used as aggregates. Transporting stone and sand to batching plants and then to building sites consumes significant energy and would no longer be necessary.
The more urgent reason for re-examination is the fact that the cement and concrete industries are utterly dependent on fossil fuels.
The use of new generation cements such as Eco-Cement to sequester carbon and bind wastes is also canvassed in this article which defines an exciting, new and holistic approach to sustainability in the context of the cement industry.
The concept of sustainability equates to continued viability. For a process to be continually viable it needs to be a closed loop system. The flow of materials into the process needs to be inexhaustible and the flow out of the process needs to connect to other processes. Processes that use exhaustible inputs or unutilised outputs are unsustainable on an ongoing basis.
Materials used in the construction industry have a huge impact on sustainability. Their production involves changes in chemistry or shape and requires what is referred to as process energy. The logistics of positioning materials results in the use of transport energy. Process and transport energies are embodied in materials in their final position. The properties of materials and the way in which they are spatially designed define lifetime energies.
Over 90% of all energy used currently results in carbon dioxide (CO2) releases and cement manufacture is unique in that there are also chemical releases of the gas during the clinkering process.
In addition to considering the properties that relate to the engineering of the building, consideration therefore needs to be given to:
The Exxon Mobil model which is based on current trends predicts fossil fuels will continue to provide the bulk of the world’s energy in 2025 as hereunder:
Oil 36 percent
Gas 25 percent
Coal 22 percent
Nuclear 5 percent
Biomass/municipal solid waste 9.1 percent
Hydropower 2.7 percent
Wind/solar 0.6 percent (Ball 2005).
Most models of oil reserves, production and consumption show peak oil around 2010 (Campbell 2005) and serious undersupply and rapidly escalating prices by 2025. It follows that there will be economic mayhem unless the concrete industry acts now to change the energy base of cement and concrete. In particular transport from quarry to batching plant to site will need to be reconsidered. Rising oil prices will also impact on the price of alternative fossil fuels such as coal which is currently the predominant source of kiln energy. Unlike many construction materials, it is fortunately relatively easy to change the energy base of cement and concrete thanks to recent innovations by John Harrison of Tasmania, Australia. This article will explain how.
Harrison’s contribution has been a new non fossil fuel driven kiln technology for making cements that involves capture of chemical releases and binders based on calcium magnesium blends that reduce or even sequester carbon dioxide emissions as well as enable the inclusion of a greater range of localised low impact materials and wastes for their physical as well as chemical properties into concretes for the built environment.
The built environment encompasses in the order of 70% of all materials flows. Of this concrete is the major proportion at around 15 billion tonnes.
Given this scenario the shift to a sustainable production and use paradigm will involve the concrete industry as the major participant and require changes reducing embodied and lifetime energies as well as chemical releases.
The concrete industry could be defined as the business of manufacturing and selling binders. Urgent sustainability issues such as climate change and waste mean that the industry must evolve. Other sustainability issues are less obvious such as a need to shift production away from unhealthy organic binders (e.g. formaldehyde). There are also other factors driving evolution such as changes in construction methodologies (e.g. the introduction of robotics).
In an industry riddled with prejudice and dogma change will be difficult, but is actually achievable on far greater scales than currently imagined. Manipulable factors include embodied energies, chemical releases and properties.
The embodied energy of a building product such as concrete is the total energy
consumed by all of the processes associated with its production, from the acquisition
of natural resources to delivery. It includes the mining, manufacturing of materials
and equipment, transport of the materials and even the energy consumed in administration.
The embodied energy of a material is usually measured in Gjt-1 (MjKg-1). The embodied energy of concrete is relatively low at around 2 Gjt-1. Aluminium by contrast has the highest embodied energy at around 180 Gjt-1. When the total embodied energy in construction is considered however concrete makes the greatest contribution because of the enormous volume used. It follows that improvements will have a big impact.
Given the fuels scenario presented in this article, the only way the concrete industry will survive in the long run is to use energy that is not derived from fossil fuels for both calcining and transport operations. For calcining, candidate energies include wind, solar, wave, geothermal and nuclear. For transport more intense lateral thinking is required.
On the 28th June 2005 The European Union announced that the world's largest ever fusion reactor will be built in France, at a total cost of around $12bn. The ultimate goal of the project is to finally crack the problem of how to tap into the immense power of nuclear fusion. Fusion is the same process that goes on in the centre of the sun, and it holds the promise of almost inexhaustible, clean safe energy generation.
Fusion energy will take at least 25 years to develop and until it is abundantly available, the concrete industry must focus efforts on reducing the dependency on fossil fuels using other means. Some processes are more adaptable than others and unfortunately Portland cement clinker manufacture requiring over 1400 deg.C is not easily adapted to more efficient use of non fossil fuel energy.
There is however an alternative. Cement is itself a blend of at least four constituents and what Harrison proposes is also blending with it reactive magnesia which has been shown to deliver superior properties and which can be made much more sustainably using non fossil fuel energy.
The lower temperatures required means that calcining magnesite, the main source ore, is more efficient and can be achieved by direct non fossil fuel energy such as in a solar concentrator.
There are only two ways to reduce the emissions associated with the transport energy component of concrete: change the source of energy away from fossil fuels (as with hybrid and electric vehicles) and/or use less energy by incorporating locally sourced materials as aggregates requiring less transport. Harrison’s Tec and Eco-Cement binders are uniquely un reactive, making the latter more feasible.
Recycling of materials reduces their embodied energy, because energy consumed to create the material recycled can be averaged over the number of cycles that have occurred.
Waste materials have zero embodied energy, because the embodied energy is already accounted for in other materials. The inclusion of fly ash in concrete is an example of a waste material that lowers the total embodied energy of the resultant concrete mix – at least until fly ash is no longer considered to be a waste, as is now the case with silica fume.
Concretes are composites that traditionally, but not necessarily use stone and sand as aggregates and, increasingly, fly ash and ground granulated blast furnace slag as supplementary cementitious materials. Many other materials, many of which are wastes, could conceivably be used but current generation cements are too alkaline. The unreactive chemistry of the system proposed by TecEco will change this.
Harrison discovered that the main weakness of concrete is the presence of Portlandite which remains indefinitely, resulting in a high pH internal environment. Harrison removes Portlandite using the pozzolanic reaction, and replaces it with Brucite, a much less soluble alkali, thereby substantially reducing the pH and thus the long term reactivity of concrete. An expanded range of recycled and waste materials can therefore be used.
When any alkali carbonate is de-carbonated or calcined CO2 is produced. This release is an inevitable consequence of the stoichiometry of the de-carbonation reaction. It is essential therefore to consider how the gas could be prevented from entering into the atmosphere.
Various direct sequestration processes are being considered. An alternative and adjunct is to change the composition of Portland cement with a view to reducing net releases by substituting components, such as the magnesium oxide proposed by TecEco, that can easily be made in such a way that CO2 is not released to the atmosphere. Magnesium oxide can be produced at much lower temperatures more efficiently than cement using non fossil fuel energy such as in a solar concentrator.
The embodied energy of the materials used in a typical energy efficient home lasting say 50 years would be in the order of 30% of the total lifetime and embodied energies and higher if carpet, fit out and white goods were also included.
Concrete is only one component and in one recent example, the K2 building in Melbourne, Australia, contributed only around 1.4% (Flower 2005). More important are the properties that can be imparted to composites such as concrete that reduce lifetime energies.
In the low long term pH formulations proposed by Harrison a very wide range of wastes can be utilised for the physical properties they impart to concretes without delayed reaction problems. Other benefits of recycling include an overall reduction in costs to the extent that wastes that can be acquired at low cost are used. Sawdust as aggregate, for example, is cheap or free, produces concrete that is lightweight, insulating, and easier to cut and drill.
New materials and materials composites can introduce physical properties that result in them being more sustainable in use. The use of insulating concretes is a simple example. There is much room for innovation and significant improvement in the operating efficiency of buildings will be the outcome. Lifetime energy efficiencies have an impact on sustainability by reducing net use of fossil fuels and the associated release of CO2.
The global warming phenomenon requires more action than simply using less
energy and producing less CO2. We actually need a process whereby we can get
the CO2 that is already in the atmosphere back out again on a very large scale
at low cost.
Concrete is an ideal candidate for this role because of the huge tonnages involved.
Because the CO2 produced from the calcining of Magnesite (MgCO3) to make reactive Magnesia (MgO) is easily captured and geo-sequestered, significant net sequestration occurs when Eco-Cements absorb atmospheric CO2 in permeable substrates.
TecEco Cement formulations include Tec-Cements, Eco-Cements and Enviro-Cements. Tec-Cements blend reactive magnesia with Portland Cement, but still use PC as the major component and are used for high-performance applications. Eco-Cements have much higher proportions of magnesium carbonate and set by carbonation in permeable substrates. Enviro-Cements are a non-permeable cement using a similar formula, and are suitable for chemically locking in all manner of toxic and hazardous wastes.
The way we make concrete including how we transport the components, how we use it and what properties we give it is of vital importance to sustainability.
Ball, J. (2005). Exxon makes a cold calculation on global warming. Wall Street
Journal. New York, Wall Street Journal.
Campbell, C. J. (2005) "The Second Great Depression: Causes and Responses." Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas Volume, DOI:
Campell, C. (2004, 24 April 2005). "Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas Newsletter." from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:ASPO_2004.png.
Flower, D. J. M. S., Jay G. Bawejab, Daksh (2005). Environmental Impacts of Concrete, Production and Placement, Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University.
Pearce, F. (1997). "The Concrete Jungle Overheats." New Scientist(2097): 14.
Tucker, S. (2000). "CSIRO on line brochure." Retrieved 1 January 2002, 2002, from http://www.dbce.csiro.au/ind-serv/brochures/embodied/embodied.htm.
USGS (2004). "Mineral Commodity Summary - Cement." (2004).