World-first aviation trial of low carbon concrete

Low emissions concrete is being trialled at the busiest airport in Europe, with four different applications replicating a range of typical aviation infrastructure.

The trial is at Heathrow Airport, and it is the first time that a trial of its kind has been conducted at any airport in the world. The trial is designed to test durability and longevity in a real-life airport setting and is part of Heathrow’s sustainability strategy (Heathrow 2.0), committed to reducing on-ground emissions as well as in the air.

With around 45 seconds between aircraft taking off and landing at the airport, it is critical the concrete trial undergoes rigorous testing to ensure it can withstand the pressures of such a busy aviation hub.

There is the potential to radically reduce the carbon output of infrastructure projects at Heathrow Airport as a result of this trial. The four applications being trialled are airfield pavements that include runways and taxiways as well as reinforced pit cover slabs and other ancillary types of concrete areas.

The project is targeting a 50% reduction in emissions and is led by Jacobs as the technical consultant, with implementation by Cemex and Ecocem. The initiative comes in the wake of Heathrow Airport’s sponsorship of a PhD candidate at the University of Surrey whose three years of work has resulted in the trial.

However, it is just the first of a number of trials being planned that will test other low carbon concrete materials on the market and the outcomes can be used to reduce embedded carbon in a number of projects being delivered by Ferrovial Construction and Dyer & Butler at Heathrow Airport.

About the author

Desi Corbett

Desi is our weekly news journalist and the editor of Concrete in Australia magazine for 10 years. She has been heavily involved in all forms of engineering since 2013; part of a 30-year writing career across a range of subjects and media.