Machine Learning as a tool to better understand and forecast the relationships between material properties of climate-improved concrete

Concrete production, a significant contributor to carbon dioxide emissions, is undergoing a transformative shift to reduce its environmental impact. In Sweden, where cement production accounts for 3-4% of the country's total CO2 emissions, the focus is on developing climate-improved concrete by incorporating alternative materials such as slag or fly ash. This shift poses challenges, altering critical properties of the concrete. To address this, a pioneering project aims to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance the predictability of climate-improved concrete's temperature and strength, paving the way for optimized construction practices and reduced carbon footprint.

The project's core objective is to deploy machine learning (ML)-based methods to developEco-Concrete Property Prediction with ML algorithms predicting the temperature and strength of climate-improved concrete. These algorithms will be integrated into smart tools, providing decision support for concrete manufacturers and contractors. The project aims to achieve this by evaluating various AI methods for strength prediction, developing models for long-term strength forecasting, exploring AI practices for temperature forecasting, and comparing them with existing tools. Additionally, the project seeks to analyze and suggest algorithms for notification/control based on current temperature forecasts and explore alternative methods like Neural Networks for a more sustainable future aligned with the 2030 Agenda.

 

Challenges Addressed

The primary challenge addressed by the project is the need to reduce CO2 emissions in the cement and concrete industry. By replacing some cement with alternative filler materials, the industry can significantly decrease its carbon footprint. However, changes in critical properties, such as early temperature and strength development, pose obstacles. The project aims to overcome these challenges by utilizing AI techniques to understand and forecast the impact of different parameters on temperature and strength development, thus promoting the use of climate-improved concrete.

Current Situation

Concrete, a widely used building material globally, contributes significantly to carbon dioxide emissions. In Sweden, efforts are underway to produce climate-improved concrete by replacing a substantial portion of cement with filler materials, resulting in a lower carbon footprint. However, challenges arise, including slower strength development and increased sensitivity to cold weather. This hinders the widespread use of climate-improved concrete, especially during colder periods, impacting the industry's emission reduction goals.

AI's Role

Traditional forecasting models based on temperature-strength relationships are insufficient for climate-improved concrete. AI, particularly ML, offers a powerful solution to identify correlations in vast datasets and develop new algorithms for forecasting and decision support. By combining ML with Internet of Things (IoT) systems, the project aims to create smart tools that monitor and forecast concrete properties during curing, enabling optimized and increased use of climate-improved concrete.

Contributions to Agenda 2030

The project aligns with two key goals of the United Nations' Agenda 2030: Goal 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, and Goal 13 - Climate Action. Goal 9 focuses on building resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable industrialization, and fostering innovation. The project contributes by developing innovative AI-based tools for optimizing the use of climate-improved concrete, thus supporting sustainable development and economic growth in the construction industry. Goal 13 emphasizes urgent action to combat climate change. The project addresses this by actively working to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the cement and concrete industry through the development and increased use of climate-improved concrete.

Participants

The project's participants include large enterprises in the cement, concrete industry and, such as Peab, Heidelberg Materials Cement Sverige (former Cementa), Swerock and Celsicom. These companies are actively involved in the production and construction of concrete and are committed to sustainable development. The project also aims to benefit academia, research actors, and small and medium-sized enterprises by contributing valuable insights and tools for eco-friendly concrete production.

Linköping University (LiU) - Leading the Project

Linköping University is a leading educational institution in Sweden, known for its commitment to academic excellence and innovation. With a rich history and a forward-looking approach, LiU serves as the driving force behind this project. Located in the heart of Sweden, the university provides a dynamic learning environment, fostering creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. LiU empowers its students and researchers to make a meaningful impact on society and the world.

Heidelberg Materials Cement Sverige AB

Formerly known as Cementa, Heidelberg Materials Cement Sverige AB is a key player in Sweden's construction industry. As part of the global Heidelberg Materials group operating in 50+ countries, they specialize in cement, aggregates, and ready-mixed concrete. With a strong focus on sustainability and digitalization, they aim for carbon neutrality and circular economy practices. Leading the cement market in Sweden, Heidelberg Materials emphasizes energy efficiency and eco-friendly materials, combining global reach with local expertise.

Heidelberg Materials logo

Swerock

Swerock is a prominent supplier in the construction industry, recognized for pioneering sustainable construction solutions. Their expertise spans bridge construction, railway projects, excavation, and material management, all with a robust focus on sustainability. Guided by strict ethical and quality standards, Swerock prioritizes safety, environmental responsibility, and favorable conditions. Holding quality and environmental certifications since 2001, Swerock is a trusted partner for sustainable construction projects.

Swerock AB logo

Peab

Known as the Nordic Community Builder, Peab is a significant player in the construction industry. With approximately 15,000 dedicated employees and impressive annual net sales of SEK 62 billion, Peab plays a crucial role in shaping communities where people live and work. Headquartered strategically in Förslöv on the picturesque Bjäre Peninsula in southern Sweden, Peab is a publicly traded company listed on Nasdaq Stockholm, underlining its market significance.

Peab Sverige AB

Celsicom-easy connect

Celsicom-easy connect is focused on creating user-friendly products that simplify tasks and save time and money. They developed Celsicom Connect, a versatile data collection device, and designed their sensors. Operating in Varberg, Halmstad, and Lund in southern Sweden, Celsicom-easy connect expanded its reach in 2014 through a partnership with Nordtec Instruments AB. In 2020, they introduced Celsicom Easy Connect, utilizing NB-IoT tech for extended battery life and better coverage without a base station.

Celsicom-easy connect logo

In summary

This project is a significant step towards a sustainable future in concrete production, using AI to address challenges from alternative filler materials, reducing CO2 emissions. Innovative ML algorithms and IoT systems can transform climate-improved concrete production, aligning with Agenda 2030 goals for climate action and sustainability.

Through collaboration with industry leaders like Heidelberg Materials, Swerock, Peab, and Celsicom-easy connect, alongside Linköping University, the project aims to drive positive change. It emphasizes environmental concerns, promotes innovation, and supports economic growth. Supported by Tillväxtverket and the European Union, the project seeks to empower large enterprises, academia, research actors, and small to medium-sized enterprises, fostering an eco-friendlier concrete production landscape. This initiative represents a beacon of sustainable progress, showcasing the positive outcomes of converging academia, industry, and innovation for a greener, resilient world.

Funded by Tillväxtverket co-funded European Union.