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2023 Cooper Award: Sustainable construction with low-carbon cement and carbon capture

Royal Society Te Apārangi has selected Dr Vineet Shah, of Callaghan Innovation, for the Cooper Award—the Early Career Research Excellence Award for Technology, Applied Sciences and Engineering—for transforming concrete waste into a sustainable low-carbon additive for cement.

Through his research, Vineet is focused on improving the sustainability of the construction industry.

His pioneering work on low-carbon cement contributes solutions to two globally significant challenges:

  • that concrete is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions, creating approximately 8% of carbon dioxide emissions, and
  • that a massive and increasing amount of concrete waste goes to landfill annually.

Vineet’s research pioneers the use of concrete “fines” — finely crushed concrete produced when buildings are demolished— to replace cement in new construction. By recycling demolition waste using carbon dioxide, this process permanently captures carbon dioxide. 

“By promoting circularity and reducing landfill waste, this innovative solution, transforming waste into sustainable building materials is a significant opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint, reducing the global-warming potential, conserving natural resources, and creating a more sustainable future,” says Vineet’s nominator. 

Callaghan Innovation is showcasing this new, high-quality, recycled, low-carbon cement additive at its own Gracefield Innovation Quarter in Lower Hutt, contributing to the organisation’s decarbonisation commitment.

Vineet Shah WSA VS Action

Before joining Callaghan Innovation as a Senior Research Scientist, Vineet was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Canterbury. There he helped develop technology to reduce climate change by capturing and storing carbon dioxide in magnesium hydroxide, produced from globally abundant olivine-rich silicate rocks. 

This work showed that it could be possible to use this method to remove and sequester at least half of the 40 billion tonnes of the CO2 produced annually. It led to the formation of a start-up company (Aspiring Materials) that has received funding to scale-up the technology.

Vineet has since completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Environmental Management, complementing his ability to develop and deliver innovative products aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

His referees agree that Vineet is an exceptional individual. “What sets Vineet apart is his ability to think creatively and holistically, resulting in novel research directions.”

“Beyond his technical capability and achievements, I see Vineet as a supportive, collaborative, passionate and driven scientist who has all the elements of a key player making enormous impact in the world.”


Cooper Award:

The Royal Society Te Apārangi’s Cooper Award recognises Early Career Research Excellence In Technology, Applied Sciences, and Engineering. 


To Vineet Shah for his pioneering research transforming concrete from demolition waste into a sustainable low-carbon cement additive, and fostering a circular economy in construction.