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UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre for Mineral-based Construction Materials

Professor Julia Stegemann (Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering)

177 million tonnes of virgin aggregates, 15 million tonnes of cement and 2 billion bricks were used to build houses, civic and commercial buildings, roads and railways, etc, in the UK in 2016. Meanwhile, 64 million tonnes of waste arose from construction and demolition. Materials from construction and demolition are mainly managed by down-cycling with loss of the value imparted to them by energy-intensive and polluting extraction and manufacturing processes. The UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research Centre for Mineral-based Construction Materials therefore aims to do more with less mineral-based construction materials, to reduce costs to industry, reduce waste and pollution, and benefit the natural environment that we depend on. Firstly, our research will try to better understand how mineral-based construction materials flow through the economy, over all the stages of their life cycle, including extraction, processing, manufacture, and end-of-life. Secondly, we will work on technical improvements that we can make in design of mineral-based products and structures, and in all the life-cycle stages of mineral-based construction materials. Thirdly, we will look at how changes in current business models and practices, government policy and education could support use of less mineral-based construction materials. In the first 4 years of our Centre, a budget of ~£8M provided by UKRI, industry and the host universities will fund more than 25 academic investigators representing different disciplines, who will guide the activities of 15 postdoctoral researchers, in collaboration with more than 40 industrial partners. More than 20 PhD and 30 MSc students will also be trained in the Centre.