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UKRI Centre Construction Materials
This UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre 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. There is potential for mineral-based construction materials to be reused and recycled at higher value, for example, by refurbishing rather than demolishing, or by building using reusable modules that can be taken apart rather than demolished, so all the energy that went into making them isn't wasted. It may also be possible to substitute minerals from natural sources by recycling other types of mineral wastes, such as the 76 million tonnes of waste arising from excavation and quarrying, 14 million tonnes of mineral wastes that come from other industries, or 4 billion tonnes of historical mining wastes. We can also be more frugal in our use of mineral-based construction materials, by designing structures to use less materials, last longer, and be suitable for repurposing rather than demolition, and using novel manufacturing techniques. 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. The Centre will work to support the National Materials Database planned by the Office of National Statistics, which will capture how materials are used and waste arises over time and space in the UK, so that we have the information to improve how materials are used. We will also study how any changes we might make to practices around minerals use would affect the environment and the economy, such as how they affect greenhouse gas emissions, how much they will cost businesses, or how they will affect jobs. 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 mineralbased construction materials. Thirdly, we will look at how changes in business practices could support use of less mineral-based construction materials, such as how they might be able to move more quickly to new technologies, or how they might use digital technologies to keep track of materials. We will explore how the government can support these changes, and how we can provide education so that everyone working in this systems understands what they need to do.
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