New technology curbs concrete’s carbon footprint

An international consortium of manufacturers, technology experts, financiers and energy companies are making headway in reducing carbon emission from cement and concrete production, a major contributor to climate change.

Concrete giant LafargeHolcim is working on a new process in a plant to the north of London with the help of US-based Solidia Technologies and the financial backing of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Global energy companies BP and Total are also involved in the project.

Solidia is perfecting a way to replace water and steam used in curing cement with carbon dioxide. The carbon becomes fused as solid in the material.

Cement is an essential ingredient in concrete, which is used worldwide in construction of all kinds. But making cement produces as much as 7 per cent of global emissions, according to Solidia’s website. That makes it the second-biggest carbon emitter.

Solidia’s process, in contrast, turns carbon dioxide into a solid, making sure it does not rise in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. Solidia claims to be able to reduce emissions by as much as 70 per cent and water use by as much as 100 per cent.

“If Solidia’s concrete-making technology succeeds in gaining traction around the world, it could be a way of binding up large quantities of carbon dioxide in roads and other structures,” wrote the New York Times.

Warren Hilton, LafargeHolcim’s plant manager in Leighton Buzzard, said the process appears to be working well: “From my perspective the chemistry works, the mix works, the process works.”

Image credit: Hello I’m Nik via Unsplash


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