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OSU testing prompts California to adopt road-ready cement with reduced environmental impact

CA Rt. 89 and sign
David Patton
Riding the Edge Photography
California Route 89, which connects the Sierra Nevada to the southern Cascade Range, is among the 50,000 miles of highways and freeways managed by Caltrans. Caltrans has approved the use of low-carbon cement for its transportation infrastructure projects following testing by the OSU College of Engineering.

Oregon State University research has paved the way for low-carbon cement in California’s highways and freeways.

Portland limestone cement works as well as the standard binder used in concrete, only it’s cheaper and does not create as many carbon emissions during its production.

Jason Weiss is a professor of civil and construction engineering at OSU.

”We replaced a portion of the existing ‘clinker’ -the part of the cement that we actually manufacture in the kiln- we replaced that with a small portion of finely ground limestone," said Weiss. "So over the years, we figured out how to grind the system, and get the system so that it does react as a conventional system.

"Meaning it’s going to form the same type of glue, the same type of strength, the same type of durability, but with a lower carbon footprint.”

Caltrans, the agency overseeing more than 50,000 miles of roadways in California, approved the use of portland limestone cement after OSU’s testing.

Officials say shifting to the material can potentially cut emissions of carbon dioxide by 28,000 tons a year.

Copyright @2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.