Recycling specialists Scott Bros is to install a plant on the site of their £6m wash plant over the next few months that will produce low carbon concrete.

The family-run company is already working with scientists from Teesside University on a series of trial mixes to find by how much it can reduce the amount of Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) which is used as a binding material.

It has been working for several years to find a practical use for a fine-grained clay, known as filter cake, which is a waste by-product from its two ‘urban quarries’ which convert construction and excavation waste into high quality sand and aggregate.

The silicate clay-rich filter cake, which has cementitious properties, is currently used as low value BS-certified pond lining material or inert engineering fill.

Most binding materials used in traditional concrete are based on Portland cement – but it can be significantly reduced by using the filter cake as an alternative.

The work involving the University’s School of Science, Engineering & Digital Technologies involves a series of experiments to determine exactly how much OPC can be replaced by the filter cake material whilst still achieving the same strength and durability of traditional concrete.

Cement is currently produced by an energy-intensive process involving high volumes of raw materials. In all, the process accounts for an estimated 5 to 8 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions – with countries expected to increase demand for this vital construction material in the coming years.

The £612,000 research project is being funded by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK’s innovation agency, which drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas.

Bob Borthwick, a director of Teesside-based Scott Bros, said: “The new plant  will enable us to replace a significant amount of OPC with filter cake to create low carbon concrete.

“By adopting this alternative formulation, we can significantly reduce the large carbon footprint associated with traditional concrete production using a waste material that might otherwise end up in landfill.”

Fellow director Peter Scott added: “This is a major step forward for the region’s circular economy. Transitioning away from traditional OPC toward more environmentally friendly alternatives is crucial for a greener future in construction. Such innovation paves the way for a more sustainable and resilient built environment.”

Dr David Hughes, Associate Dean (Research & Innovation) in the School of Computing, Engineering & Digital Technologies, said: “As a university which places research to deliver a cleaner, greener future for our region and beyond at the heart of its agenda we are delighted to see work begin on this new plant.

“Teesside University has collaborated with Scott Bros on this project since it was first conceptualised as a series of laboratory experiments.

“Therefore, we are delighted to see it progress to this next stage which will enable the new concrete to be produced at scale.

“We look forward to continue our partnership and supporting Scott Bros to deliver a step change in the manufacture of new, more sustainable construction materials.”