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Tom Schuler, President & CEO at Solidia Technologies, discussed the new technology they are developing that can turn concrete into a carbon sink, during his TED Talk at TED and Future Stewards’ Global Countdown Launch.
Deployment case study
Solidia: Carbon eating concrete that lowers emissions from the production phase
Other than water, concrete is the most used resource on the planet, and population growth and urbanization are driving up demand. Producing one tonne of cement – the “glue” used to make concrete – releases one tonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, making it the world’s second largest emitter.
Solidia has changed the chemistry of cement, allowing it to be produced in existing infrastructure at a lower temperature and causing it to react with carbon instead of water. This cooler method reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 30-40% during production, and results in concrete that permanently consumes another 240 kg of carbon dioxide. The water used to form the concrete products can also be recovered.
By both reducing emissions and consuming carbon, Solidia concrete has a 70% lower carbon footprint than traditional concrete. At full market conversion, Solidia’s solutions for precast concrete could eliminate at least 1.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, save three trillion litres of fresh water, reduce energy consumption equal to about 260 million barrels of oil, and eliminate 100 million tonnes of concrete landfill waste each year.
All product performance and environmental impact indicators are quantified and proven by third parties.
Tackling emissions from the $1 trillion global concrete and $300 billion cement markets is key to moving the needle fast on carbon. Currently sold in the US, Solidia Cement is produced by LafargeHolcim, and Solidia Concrete by EP Henry. With research and development collaborators including the US DOT, DOE and EPA, Solidia is testing solutions for the full industry, including a ready-mix solution that consumes more carbon than is emitted in the production of cement used to make it, potentially transforming concrete into a carbon sink.