Meta AI discovers new concrete recipes to reduce Meta’s carbon footprint

This story is part of The cost of climate changeCNET’s coverage of how climate change affects a range of financial issues.

What is happening

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has used artificial intelligence to create new concrete formulas, which emit up to 40% less carbon dioxide.

why does it matter

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is critical to combating climate change, and concrete is responsible for 8% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

What’s Next

Facebook is testing its concrete formulas at a new data center in Illinois and hopes the improvements will speed up the curing of low-carbon concrete.

concrete accounts for 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissionsBut Meta is using AI to try and find new recipes that aren’t a problem for climate change.

the company, His former name is Facebook, using an artificial intelligence algorithm to try to devise new concrete recipes that emit less carbon dioxide. In tests conducted at a new data center I set up in DeKalb, Illinois, Meta found that some formulas were strong enough and reduce CO2 emissions by 40%.

This is an interesting finding, but it comes with caveats. For one thing, new formulations can take longer to cure, and waiting for foundations, walls, floors, and other concrete structures is an important factor in building speed. On the other hand, new mixtures add complexity to the construction.

Amruta Sudalkar, Meta’s data center sustainability program manager, said Meta’s low-carbon concrete mixes “significantly exceeded” the company’s strength requirements in tests one and four weeks after it was poured. “We believe that, in principle, it can replace conventional concrete as long as materials are available at the right cost, and construction workers are OK with longer early curing times,” Sudalkar said.

Climate change is a massive problem caused by humans, who have been pumping billions of tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for decades. Its worst effects include floods, droughts, storms and potential disruption to agriculture. Businesses and governments struggle to reduce humankind’s carbon footprint, while maintaining an average It seems that a temperature rise of less than 2 degrees Celsius is hardly achievable.

In 2020, Meta has reached carbon neutrality for its own operations and for the energy it consumes, so-called Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. It is working on carbon neutrality for Scope 3, which expands CO2 accounting to capture the broader impact of Meta, including those of suppliers selling Products to Meta and the energy consumed when people use Meta services like Facebook. Meta aims for carbon neutrality for Scope 3 by 2030.

The Meta AI team developed the new tactile formulas in partnership with University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There are a large number of potential variations in the formulas, but AI can be good at drawing conclusions from complex data, for example Predict the shape of proteins The body is made of instructions in DNA.

In partnership with concrete maker Ozinga Bros. Meta has created and tested suggested formulas to narrow the list to candidates for real-world testing.

Sudalkar said Meta’s strength requirements are “at least as stringent as industry standards, if not more stringent,” so the results could help many of the construction efforts. “We are working on optimizing our formulations for early processing times, so stay tuned for that.”

In a way, concrete could also be part of the climate change solution. Startups including carbon treatmentAnd carbide And carbon limit It injects carbon dioxide into the concrete to keep it permanently removed from the atmosphere. Economic carbon sequestration is one of the challenges in combating climate change.

Concrete producers have made some efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, including Cement Sustainability Initiative and the Net Zero Road Map of the World Cement and Concrete Association.