Cagal Meral, USA (West) finalist

Cagla Meral, 27, is a PhD student in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. Meral focuses on durability problems in concrete and methods for reducing CO2 emissions. She received MS degrees in both Computer Science and Civil Engineering from the Middle East Technical University (METU), Turkey, where she worked on developing a computer-aided expert system on concrete for civil engineers.

During her undergraduate studies she was the Editor of the monthly Engineering Newsletter. In her spare time, she enjoys diving, and Meral is a 2 star CMAS Scuba diver.

Supercritical carbon dioxide treatment of portland cement

Climate change is the greatest challenge of our generation. Eliminating a large source of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) has become a prominent global issue. About five per cent of the Earth’s CO2 emissions are created by the cement industry, which produces over 2.5 billion tons of cement annually.

Treatment of cement-based systems with supercritical CO2 (scCO2) is being investigated as a way to sequester CO2 by locking the gas back into the cement through chemical reactions. The calcite formation confirms the sequestration of CO2. In addition, the scCO2 treatment of cement particles reduces the formation of portlandite, which is responsible for many deterioration processes commonly observed in concrete structures. Experiments with nanosilica as mineral admixture were also conducted. The scCO2 treatment of cement particles with nanosilica increased the strength development of the cement paste.