Queen’s University Belfast is delighted to invite you to the EcoCon 2018 Sustainable Concrete Symposium & Workshop taking place on the 11th October, 2018 at the School of the Natural & Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast, N.Ireland.
According to a United Nations report The World’s Cities in 2016, the current global population of 7.6 billion is expected to reach 8.6 billion by the year 2030. Urban inhabitation is predicted to rise from 54.5% to 60% by 2030. The impact will be a substantial increase in the size and population of a number of our cities. A megacity is defined as an urban area with a population in excess of 10 million. In 2016 there were 31 such megacities, the UN report predicts that by 2030 there will be 41. Increased urbanisation comes at a cost, society’s requirements for modern, beautiful and comfortable accommodation must be balanced with the need to minimise the negative impacts on our environment. Ordinary Portland cement (OPC) concrete is currently the single most widely used material in the world after water. The Portland Cement Association’s 2017 annual report, notes that global production has gone from 1,100 million tonnes in 1990 to 3,270 in 2010, and predicts an annual production of 4,800 million tonnes by 2030. Due to the amount of energy required to produce OPC, the annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions arising from its use are second only to those from fossil fuels. The Global Carbon Project (2015) estimates that 2.2 gigatonnes were produced in 2014 by the OPC industry, 6% of total annual emissions. A 2016 study published by Nature Climate Change calculates the direct effect of CO2 emissions is a rise of 1.7°C (+/- 0.4) per trillion tonnes produced. The impact of this is evident with higher annual temperatures resulting in increasing extreme weather conditions such as higher levels of precipitation, storm force winds and record breaking temperatures. A secondary effect, is the acidification of our oceans as a result of the reaction of CO2 in the atmosphere with sea water, producing carbonic acid. Based on current projections for CO2 emissions, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2014) predicts that by 2100, ocean acidity could increase by 150%. The potential impact will be the destruction of coral reefs and other shell building species, an overall loss in biodiversity and fundamental changes to marine ecosystems. Furthermore, OPC production relies on the use of large quantities of virgin aggregate such as river sand, beach pebbles and quartz. These finite resources are becoming increasingly scarce, with shortages resulting in increased costs and a threat to our environment as the search for new sources extend. The advantages of concrete as a construction material derive from its durability, flexibility and strength, and so it will continue to be desirable and attractive despite its negative impact on the environment. Given the immediacy and scale of this impact, it is essential that we prioritise the development of sustainable, alternative cementitious concrete materials for use in construction.
Symposium & Workshop:
Ways of addressing the issue of increasing Global CO2 emissions and its contribution to Climate Change are a priority for researchers and academics in many areas. Viable changes in practice need to be identified and implemented as a matter of urgency. We as a society cannot continue down this current path without major consequences to future inhabitants of the planet. As academics and researchers we have a duty to reflect on the impact of our actions on the planet, be critical as to how we have contributed to these negative changes, flexible in developing alternatives and disruptive to the current status quo, which sees year on year increases in emissions despite the knowledge of how this will impact. This Sustainable Concrete Symposium and Workshop will allow researchers north and south of the border to showcase and disseminate their wide range of findings in this area, learn from the work of their fellow practitioners, reinforce existing and forge new working relationships and collaborative practices with researchers and industry partners north and south of the border.
QUB are highly active in the area of Sustainable Concrete research, have over 20 PhD and Post-Doctoral researchers, in addition to more than 5 full time Lecturers and Professors working together with our global collaborative partners in a dedicated Concrete Laboratory with access to a full range of material characterisation facilities such as Scanning Electron Microscopes, X-Ray Diffraction and Laser Particle Distribution Analysis. Together we publish large numbers of high impact research papers and journal articles annually. The Sustainable Concrete Research Symposium and Workshop is a one day academic, practical, policy development and networking event targeted at researchers and practitioners from Queen's University Belfast, Ulster University, University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, National University of Ireland, Galway, Cork University, University of Limerick and Dublin, Tralee, Letterkenny, Galway-Mayo, Carlow and Dundalk Institutes of Technology, the Southern & Northern Regional Colleges, and industry partners from local quarries, concrete plants and precast manufacturers. The Symposium will be extremely timely in the context of reinforcing and developing new collaborative relationships across the border at a time when those that exist are clearly under threat from the possible impact of Brexit in terms of trade and workforce mobility.
Objectives & Outcomes:
It is the goal at this event for us to develop a vision and strategy for future research and collaborative practice in the field of Sustainable Concrete Research and Development north and south of the border. The event has a clearly defined set of objectives in relation to the benefits it can deliver to its funders and participants and in the context of Innovation, Sustainability, Brexit and Globalisation which include –
1. Promote the range of facilities, personnel and services available to researchers in fields related to sustainable concrete development such as architecture, engineering, material science, quarrying, cement and precast concrete manufacturing.
2. Promote the scope of innovative and sustainable research projects currently being undertaken in Universities across Ireland.
3. Develop a vision and strategic plan for future research activities in the event of future legislative barriers to trade and workforce mobility, highlighting the opportunities which may arise for the delegates.
4. Showcase the range of global academic, research and industrial activities in which delegates from north and south of the border are engaged.
5. Support existing academic and collaborative relationships
6. Develop new academic and collaborative relationships
7. Identify areas of future collaborative research.
8. Develop models for future collaborative research practice and funding
The outcome of the event will be an increased awareness of the research facilities and services available across Ireland, the extent of our participation in global research practice, confidence in the resilience of Academics, Researchers and Industrial Practitioners both north and south of the border in the field of Sustainable Concrete Development in the face of some of the challenges we may face after Brexit and opportunities which may arise in terms of research, collaboration, employment and funding.
The Symposium Committee comprises of Dr. Sreejith Nanukuttan, QUB Senior Lecturer, Civil Engineering and committee member of Civil Engineering Research Ireland, Roisin Hyde, QUB PhD Researcher, Andrew McIntosh, Director of R&D at Banah Geopolymer Cement and Douglas Thompson, QUB PhD Researcher in the use of Supplementary Cementitious Materials. Head of School of Natural & Built Environment, Professor Greg Keefe has kindly offered to host the event and Dr. Mark Russell, researcher and committee member of the Institute of Concrete Technology will provide support through their knowledge and experience of the subject and extensive network of academic and industry practitioners.