Carbon-Negative Cement: The Green Revolution Underfoot

05/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

So to reduce concrete's carbon footprint to near zero or less, different approaches are needed. Novacem, a British startup, is developing a cement that does not use carbonates and can make concrete that absorbs carbon dioxide. Carbon Sense Solutions, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, wants to bubble CO2 through wet cement, sequestering the gas through carbonation (a process that occurs naturally, though very slowly, under normal conditions).

At a site adjacent to a gas-fired electricity generation plant in Moss Landing, Calif., the Calera Corporation is developing a process to bubble power plant flue gases through seawater or other brackish water, using the CO2 in the gases to precipitate carbonate minerals for use as cement or aggregates in concrete. The process mimics, to some extent, what corals and other calcifying marine organisms do.

Calera calculates that producing a ton of these minerals consumes half a ton of CO2, so the resulting concrete could potentially be carbon negative -- sequestering carbon dioxide permanently.


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