What if cement could help save the planet? Thanks to this discovery, it might.

Earlier this year, a Swiss startup began removing CO2 from the atmosphere using a large vacuum-like machine.

Their ultimate goal is to start reversing the damaging effects of climate change by reducing CO2 — a major component of atmospheric pollution — on a global scale.

While the machine's development is a huge step forward, one little problem remains — where does all that collected CO2 go?


Gaurav Sant, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UCLA, has one solution: turn it into cement.

(And we're not just talking about any old cement.)

Gaurav Sant. Photo via UCLA.

Sant has figured out how to make a stronger, more lightweight, more structurally sound cement out of — wait for it — CO2.

Believe it or not, the regular construction of cement is responsible for 9% of the world's CO2 emissions. And it is widely accepted that CO2 emissions play a huge role in global warming and, by effect, climate change.

Sant, along with his team at UCLA, decided to try to turn two negatives into a positive. They found a way to integrate CO2 into the production of cement, thereby keeping it out of the atmosphere and upcycling it into something useful and even profitable.  

It all started from tiny cement cylinders created by Sant's 3D printer.

Sant with his 3D printer. Photo via UCLA.

Well, that and a pretty important discovery of how CO2 can help accelerate the cement-making process.

In simplest terms, Sant's team discovered that the CO2 in flue gas streams from coal and natural gas power plants accelerates the mineral-making processes that can be used to create cementing agents. They decided to use CO2 to produce a new type of concrete that they've named CO2NCRETETM.

Curious how they did that? Here's the breakdown.

When a mineral called portlandite absorbs CO2, it turns into limestone, which is a cementing agent. While this process normally takes years to happen naturally, Sant's team figured out how to make it happen quickly — 450 pounds of CO2 into several tons of CO2NCRETETM quickly — and efficiently using their 3D printer.

Unlike traditional cement-making on a construction site, 3D technologies allow them to create basic construction pieces out of their new CO2-based concrete that fit together perfectly.

This means they can make cement pieces that are stronger, more lightweight, and more structurally sound.

Sant with a fellow researcher creating cones of CO2NCRETETM. Photo via UCLA.

"As a child that played with Legos, I have long recognized that the idea of constructing buildings and infrastructure like a large Lego set is (a) fast, (b) intuitive, and, (c) offers improved quality control since 'factory made' pieces are simply assembled on site," Sant explains in an email.  

What sort of impact could this have on reducing global CO2 emissions? Turns out, a pretty big one.

Traditional concrete being poured. Photo by Circe Denyer/PublicDomainPictures.net.

According to Sant and his team, if CO2NCRETETM were to be mass-produced globally, it could reduce CO2 emissions from traditionally made cement by 50%. And since those emissions currently make up 9% of all CO2 emissions on the planet, that's no small amount.

What's more, since there's been little change made in the construction industry over the last two centuries, it's primed for an efficiency makeover.

"CO2NCRETETM has the potential to serve as an example of how CO2 emissions — even those associated with dilute CO2 streams — can be repurposed to create value and minimize environmental impact," writes Sant.

Photo by Robert Jones/Pixabay.

And it's not like this goal is a faraway dream. They've made incredible progress on this new cement and are starting to shop it around.

They've figured out how to streamline the cement-making process so it takes much less time and energy than it did initially. They've also done an analysis of the construction market and see huge potential for such a sustainable product.

"This is especially significant as jurisdictions, globally, including states and nations, seek to limit CO2 emissions and impose CO2 penalties on industrial processes," writes Sant.

And in terms of progress with CO2 capture, Sant's work could offer an economically viable alternative to storing the CO2 underground, which can get pretty expensive.

If the world recognizes the economic value of upcycled cement along with the environmental impact, this discovery could revolutionize the future of construction.

Photo by Pexels/Pixabay.

Engineering solutions like this can offer a way to mitigate climate change and be profitable at the same time. Now it's just about keeping an open mind and seeing the enormous potential in a small, concrete cylinder.

As for Sant and his associates, they're just thrilled to be on the precipice of real, necessary change.

"As humans, we all want to make positive impact," says Sant. "To be a part of the solution is a very empowering accomplishment that we wish to socialize."

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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