UDOT using new limestone cement with several benefits
Jul 15, 2022, 5:15 PM | Updated: 11:58 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — Cement is in short supply and has been since early in the pandemic. That creates problems for many builders in the construction industry, including road builders. So, the Utah Department of Transportation has shifted to a new cement that should improve supply and even improve air quality.
Right now, UDOT is only receiving about 10% of its usual cement supply. That impacts paving projects like the reconstruction of Interstate 80 and Interstate 215. But a new kind of cement may ease that problem.
“The supply has been reduced a lot from what it was in the past,” said Bill Lawrence, UDOT Materials and Pavements Director Bill Lawrence said.
Lawrence said cement is the glue in concrete. It binds the coarse rock and sand that make up concrete pavement.
Typically, UDOT and other builders have used different kinds of cement based on availability. Now, UDOT is among the first road builders in the country to start using only one kind of cement — made with crushed limestone called Portland Limestone Cement.
“It can help in the sense that the suppliers don’t have to have a large portfolio of different types of cement. They can switch completely to this Type L cement,” Lawrence said.
If cement producers only have to deliver one type of cement, that should help with supply. But there’s an even greater environmental benefit. The cement was previously made with limestone cooked in a kiln. The new cement is made with crushed limestone, which eliminates the carbon emissions from the kiln.
“The benefit is that producing the Portland Limestone Cement, you get about a 10% reduction in CO2, carbon dioxide, so there’s environmental benefit,” Lawrence said.
According to industry estimates, that’s the equivalent of taking 1.8 million cars off the road, in CO2 savings, or the equivalent of planting 11 million acres of trees per year.
The limestone cement meets all of UDOTs criteria for durability, performance and quality.
“To get the environmental benefit, we get it, but we don’t have to sacrifice anything,” Lawrence said.
UDOT believes this cement will soon be the industry standard.
“We’re trying to become more sustainable as an industry,” he said.