Usage of alternative cementitious binders containing naturally occurring radioactive by-products: The industry's perspective

Nazanin Love, Robbe Geysmans, Tanja Perko, Wouter Schroeyers, Robert Malina, Sara Leroi-Werelds

    Research outputpeer-review


    In 2021, global cement production was responsible for around 7% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Alternative cementitious binders from secondary raw materials that replace traditional cement can reduce the need for the use of virgin raw materials and can thereby reduce GHGs associated with cement. Some of these secondary materials include industrial by-products categorised as NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material). While prior research has investigated the technical aspects of using NORM-contained by-products in cementitious binders, to date, no attention has been given to non-technical aspects such as perceived risks and concerns of the main stakeholders. This study brings novel insights into these overlooked aspects through a series of semi-structured interviews with concrete industry representatives in Belgium. Through a thematic analysis of the data, we found six themes that represent industry's concerns regarding the usage of NORM-contained cementitious binders: (1) availability of the by-products, (2) financial factors, (3) quality and performance, (4) common sustainability parameters, (5) customer demand, and (6) acceptance of NORM-contained by-products. Regulatory certainty was found to be a key driver in all six themes. With regard to the expected role of governments, we can synthesise three core expectations highlighted by interviewees: a) Policymakers need to revisit the current regulations regarding the performance and quality to facilitate innovation in the concrete industry such as the use of alternative cementitious binders. b) They should implement EU-level regulations that can provide a level playing field for the industry during their transition to net-zero targets, including import regulations and certification for the usage of NORM-contained by-products. c) As an important public buyer, the government should expedite the transition to alternative binders through their procurement policies for governmental buildings and infrastructure projects.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number135903
    Number of pages11
    Journal Journal of Cleaner Production
    StatePublished - 10 Feb 2023

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Environmental Science
    • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
    • Building and Construction
    • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
    • Strategy and Management

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