Originally Published by the SDTC
CarbonCure CO2 Utilization Technology: At a Glance
CarbonCure Technologies manufactures a retrofit carbon dioxide recycling technology for existing masonry and ready-mixed concrete plants. CarbonCure’s technology recycles CO2, reducing the carbon footprint of the concrete industry by creating affordable, greener and stronger concrete products. Using CarbonCure’s technology, concrete manufacturers are able to permanently store CO2 in their concrete as solid limestone. The addition of CO2 also potentially reduces the need for some energy-intensive components in the concrete, further reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The cement and concrete industry produces approximately 5 per cent of global GHGs. Environmental concerns and the opportunity to recycle CO2 in the concrete industry led Halifax-based CarbonCure to consider CO2 as an asset rather than a liability. They saw the potential to recycle CO2 in the concrete industry to make greener, stronger building materials while creating significant environmental benefits.
The initial SDTC-funded project aimed to refine and commercialize CarbonCure’s CO2-utilization technology in the concrete sector. The performance of the technology was validated through two full-scale industrial demonstrations—with the Shaw Group and Atlas Block (now Brampton Brick), respectively—for concrete masonry units. The demonstrations allowed CarbonCure to take its technology out of the lab and test it at an industrial scale in multiple full-scale production facilities.
Based on the demonstrations, CarbonCure was able to refine and optimize its technology for masonry products, as well as evolve it even further to include ready-mixed concrete applications. CO2 injection methods were also improved, becoming increasingly more effective and efficient; the resulting technology is not only cost competitive but the end product can be even stronger than traditional concrete. Together with the overarching environmental benefits of the technology, CarbonCure has a very attractive product that has garnered considerable global interest.
CarbonCure’s technology is an affordable retrofit toexisting concrete plants that allows producers to recycle waste carbon dioxide (CO2) and in the process, create more environmentally friendly concrete. Carbon dioxide is sourced from local industrial gas suppliers—who collect emissions from the smokestacks of nearby industrial facilities such as oil refineries, coal plants and fertilizer plants—and stored onsite within pressurized vessels that match the plant production requirements. Once collected and purified, the CO2 is injected into the mixer and permanently converted into a very fine solid mineral that is locked away within the concrete.
The primary reaction involved in CarbonCure’s technology involves carbon dioxide and cement. When CO2 is added to concrete during mixing, the CO2 reacts with water to form carbonate ions. The carbonate then quickly reacts with calcium ions released from the cement to rapidly form a limestone-like material. Thismineral is created in the form of nanomaterials dispersed throughout the concrete mix. The conversion of CO2 into solid carbonate minerals permanently binds it within the concrete and as such, it cannot be released back into the atmosphere. The resulting concrete has a lower carbon footprint.
Global Interest in Greener Concrete
CarbonCure’s technology is operational in more than 25 concrete plants across North America. Utilized initially in masonry products (e.g., concrete blocks), CarbonCure has devoted considerable time in research and development to expand the technology’s reach to include ready-mixed (i.e., poured-concrete) applications. The ready-mixed concrete market represents a large economic opportunity for CarbonCure, but also has huge global environmental benefits since there are many more opportunities to sequester CO2 into poured concrete.
CarbonCure is seeing considerable overseas interest for its technology, in places such as China—a country that produces more concrete than the rest of the world combined—India and the Middle East. Before taking its technology elsewhere, however, the CarbonCure team is first intent on bringing broad market coverage to North America, servicing not only concrete producers, but the increasing number of builders and architects looking for innovative green-building solutions. Whereas many companies are working in this space, CarbonCure has a substantial first-mover advantage as the only company with a market-ready, cost-effective, and proven, operational CO2-utilization technology.