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Concrete Sustainability Hub

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Displaying 1 - 15 of 22 news clips related to this topic.

The Hill

Writing for The Hill, Principal Research Scientist Randolph Kirchain and Research Scientist Hessam Azarijafari address how the condition of the nation’s road system impacts transportation emissions. “Investing in a higher-performance road system is a lever within state control that will improve the efficiency and carbon emissions of all vehicles, regardless of how each is powered,” write Kirchain and Azarijafari. “Smoother, stiffer roads allow cars to travel along it more efficiently. Every time a car tire traverses a bump, crack, or pothole, energy is wasted.”

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Adele Peters spotlights how researchers at MIT have combined cement with carbon black to make concrete that can store energy as one of the climate tech innovations that provide hope “that it’s still possible to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.” With this new technology, “the foundation of your future house could eventually store solar power from your roof,” explains Peters.


MIT researchers have developed a supercapacitor comprised of concrete and charcoal, that can store electricity and discharge as needed, reports Aleks Phillips for Newsweek. Researchers hope the device can provide “a cheap and architectural way of saving renewable energy from going to waste,” writes Phillips.

The Boston Globe

Researchers at MIT have developed a supercapacitor, an energy storage system, using cement, water and carbon, reports Macie Parker for The Boston Globe. “Energy storage is a global problem,” says Prof. Franz-Josef Ulm. “If we want to curb the environmental footprint, we need to get serious and come up with innovative ideas to reach these goals.”

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Adele Peters writes that MIT researchers have developed a new type of concrete that can store energy, potentially enabling roads to be transformed into EV chargers and home foundations into sources of energy. “All of a sudden, you have a material which can not only carry load, but it can also store energy,” says Prof. Franz-Josef Ulm.

New Scientist

MIT engineers have uncovered a new way of creating an energy supercapacitor by combining cement, carbon black and water  that could one day be used to power homes or electric vehicles, reports Jeremy Hsu for New Scientist. “The materials are available for everyone all over the place, all over the world,” explains Prof. Franz-Josef Ulm. “Which means we don’t have the same restriction as with batteries.”

Popular Science

MIT researchers have discovered that when combined with water, carbon black and cement can produce a low-cost supercapacitor capable of storing electricity for later use, reports Andrew Paul for Popular Science. “With some further fine-tuning and experimentation, the team believes their enriched cement material could one day compose portions of buildings’ foundations, or even create wireless charging,” writes Paul.


Researchers at MIT have found that cement and carbon black can be combined with water to create a battery alternative, reports Robert Service for Science. Professor Franz-Josef Ulm and his colleagues “mixed a small percent of carbon black with cement powder and added water,” explains Service. “The water readily combines with the cement. But because the particles of carbon black repel water, they tend to clump together, forming long interconnected tendrils within the hardening cement that act like a network of wires.”

The Washington Post

Randolph Kirchain and Hessam AzariJafari of the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub speak with Washington Post reporter Sharon Osaka about the importance of reducing the emissions produced during the cement manufacturing process. Kirchain noted there is a way to cut carbon emissions significantly and ensure safety at the same time. “The things that concrete goes into are things that we need to last,” he said.

The Hill

Writing for The Hill, Randolph Kirchain and Hessam AzariJafari of the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub emphasize the importance of encouraging development of building materials with low lifetime carbon impact. “When we choose a construction material without considering its life cycle impacts,” they write, “we not only miss an opportunity to reduce use phase and end-of-life emissions, but we can unintentionally worsen them.”


Researchers from MIT’s Concrete Sustainability Hub discuss their research showing that increasing the reflectivity of paved surfaces could help lower air temperatures in U.S. cities by an average of 2.5 degrees. “If we reflect more energy back out, it’s the same as emitting less CO2,” says Randolph Kirchain, co-director of the Concrete Sustainability Hub.

New York Times

Principal Research Scientist Randolph Kirchain, co-director of the Concrete Sustainability Hub, speaks with Jane Margolies of The New York Times about how the Inflation Reduction Act expands eligibility for tax credits for installing emissions-reduction equipment at manufacturing plants. “These credits are really valuable to keep technology coming down in cost,” says Kirchain.

The Hill

Hessam Azarijafari, incoming deputy director of the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub, Ronnen Levinson of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Andrew Laurent of the Concrete Sustainability Hub write for The Hill about how cities can combat extreme heat by implementing more reflective pavements. “To protect vulnerable communities, federal and local officials must cool cities with high-reflectance pavements before the opportunity to limit the impacts of global warming vanishes,” they write.

The Hill

Writing for The Hill, Prof. Jinhua Zhao, Prof. Franz-Josef Ulm, Research Scientist Anson Stewart and Principal Research Scientist Randolph Kirchain explore how to maximize the impact and effectiveness of the infrastructure spending bill. “Here’s what we should do," they write. "Modernize planning tools to consider systems holistically, get out of technology ruts, and, most fundamentally, measure performance.”

The Boston Globe

Writing for The Boston Globe, Randolph Kirchain, co-director of the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub, and postdoctoral associate Hessam Azarijafari explore how cool pavements could be used to address urban heat. “If Boston were to properly implement cool pavements, it would reduce its CO2 emissions by 1.5 million tons over 50 years — between 1 and 3 percent of the reductions needed to meet its 2050 carbon neutrality pledge,” they write. “These reductions would come from not just reflectivity, but also from better road quality over time.”