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Scientists’ research helps to safeguard greenbelt and promote affordable housing


The number of housing developments on greenfield sites could be significantly reduced thanks to technology, pioneered by University of Greenwich environmental scientists, which can quickly decontaminate polluted and brownfield land, ready for building affordable environmentally friendly housing.

nown as Accelerated Carbonation Technology (ACT), this new process can treat contaminated land and hazardous waste in minutes rather than the days or weeks required by some conventional methods.

It works by adding a granular binder to contaminated soil and pumping carbon dioxide into the mixture. The three components rapidly combine to produce a type of cement that is very stable and can trap heavy metal that can originate from industrial activities. The land can then rapidly be used for housing or other developments, reducing overall costs and the need to build on greenfield sites.

“A by-product of the process is the potential to recycle large quantities of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, rather than release it into the atmosphere, making this technology even more attractive,” explain its developers, Dr Colin Hills and Dr Paula Carey of the university’s Centre for Contaminated Land Remediation.

“In 1999, we approached Blue Circle Industries (now Lafarge UK) to invite them to collaborate on the ACT project,” explains Dr Colin Hills. “They subsequently funded a successful trial, which has led to a three year project to develop the technology for the UK market.”

An industrial consortium has been formed to bring ACT to the market, and the process is now commercially available.

Carl Smith | alfa

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