Greening the mix
According to Babichuk, Whitemud's president, the concrete-grade metakaolin will provide producers another tool they can tout concrete as a sustainable building material. In most applications, a producer can replace up to 20% of a portland cement with metakaolin. This replacement level provides 13% less of a carbon footprint in concrete.
The carbon reduction is derived two ways. First, the calcining process uses less energy because the kiln is operated at lower temperatures than those producing portland cement (800º C for metakaolin; 2000º C for portland cement.)
And perhaps more importantly, the chemical reaction that occurs as the clay becomes a cement does not create any CO2 during heating. “We produce 55% less CO2 than portland cement,” says Babichuk.
But perhaps just as important, concrete made with metakaolin enhances the final structure's durability. “With the design community's forecast of service life exceeding 50 years, we feel engineers will incorporate metakaolin's qualities to concrete construction to provide longer service life in their life cycle equations,” says Babichuk.
There also is a third benefit. “We are processing our product exclusively for the concrete industry,” Babichuk says. Unlike other supplemental sources that are subject to questional availability, Whitemud's president assures producers that a cost-effective source is available for the next generation.
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