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Scientific American

MIT researchers have discovered that ancient Romans used calcium-rich mineral deposits to build durable infrastructure, reports Daniel Cusick for Scientific American. This “discovery could have implications for reducing carbon emissions and creating modern climate-resilient infrastructure,” writes Cusick.


Bloomberg reporter Akshat Rathi spotlights Sublime Systems, an MIT startup developing new technology to produce low-carbon cement. “Sublime’s solution involves splitting the cement-making process into two steps,” explains Rathi. “The first step is to make calcium—the key element in limestone—in a form that’s ready to chemically react with silicon—the key element in sand. Sublime reduces energy use and carbon emissions in this step by avoiding limestone and using electricity, rather than coal-fired heat.”


Prof. Admir Masic speaks with NPR host Scott Simon about the concrete blend used by the ancient Romans to build long standing infrastructures. “We found that there are key ingredients in ancient Roman concrete that lead to a really outstanding functionality property in the ancient mortar, which is self-healing,” explains Masic.


Reuters reporter Will Dunham writes that a new study by MIT researchers uncovers the secret ingredient that made ancient Roman concrete so durable and could “pave the way for the modern use of a replicated version of this ancient marvel.” Prof. Admir Masic explains that the findings are “an important next step in improving the sustainability of modern concretes through a Roman-inspired strategy.”


MIT researchers have discovered that ancient Romans used lime clasts when manufacturing concrete, giving the material self-healing properties, reports Katie Hunt for CNN. "Concrete allowed the Romans to have an architectural revolution," explains Prof. Admir Masic. "Romans were able to create and turn the cities into something that is extraordinary and beautiful to live in. And that revolution basically changed completely the way humans live."


Scientists from MIT and other institutions have uncovered an ingredient called quicklime used in ancient Roman techniques for manufacturing concrete that may have given the material self-healing properties, reports Jacklin Kwan for Science Magazine. When the researchers made their own Roman concrete and tested to see how it handled cracks, “the lime lumps dissolved and recrystallized, effectively filling in the cracks and keeping the concrete strong,” Kwan explains.

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Adele Peters writes that researchers from MIT and other institutions have found that a technique employed by ancient Romans for manufacturing concrete contains self-healing properties and could be used to help reduce concrete’s global carbon footprint. The ancient concrete method could open the “opportunity to build infrastructure that is self-healing infrastructure,” explains Prof. Admir Masic.

The Guardian

Researchers at MIT and elsewhere have found that using ancient Roman techniques for creating concrete could be used to create buildings with longer lifespans, reports Nicola Davis for The Guardian. “Roman-inspired approaches, based for example on hot mixing, might be a cost-effective way to make our infrastructure last longer through the self-healing mechanisms we illustrate in this study,” says Prof. Admir Masic.

The Hill

Researchers at MIT have found that applying ancient Roman techniques for developing concrete could be used to reduce concrete manufacturing emissions, reports Saul Elbein for The Hill. “Researchers said blocks treated with the method — in which concrete was mixed with reactive quicklime under continuous heat — knit themselves back together within a few weeks after being fractured,” writes Elbein.


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 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.”

The Conversation

Writing for The Conversation, MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub Co-Director Randolph Kirchain and postdoctoral associate Hessam AzariJafari explore how building lighter-colored, more reflective roads could potentially help lower air temperatures and reduce heat waves. “As cities consider ways to combat the effects of climate change, we believe strategically optimizing pavement is a smart option that can make urban cores more livable,” they write.


In a letter to The Guardian, Prof. Franz-Josef Ulm, Randolph Kirchain and Jeremy Gregory of the Concrete Sustainability Hub argue that “concrete remains a vital means of social and economic transformation for developing nations.” The authors add that “we ought to expand our understanding of it and use its full potential to enable sustainable development.”

USA Today

Jeremy Gregory, executive director of the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub, writes for USA Today about how the quality and condition of a roadway impacts a vehicle’s fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions. “Actions that improve road design and conditions can reduce vehicle fuel consumption and emissions,” argues Gregory.