A new solution for manufacturing carbon negative concrete, developed by the Carbonaide project of Finnish research organization VTT, picked up first prize in the annual awards of EARTO, the organization of the European Research and Technology Organizations, on 12 October in Brussels. The project was recognized in the category of “Impact Expected”.
The Carbonaide solution is based on “an effective carbonation method”, which allows for the binding of carbon dioxide into concrete blocks using an automated system at atmospheric pressure.
”The method is compatible with the current manufacturing processes of concrete. It can be used for manufacturing all pre-casted concrete elements and products,” said Tapio Vehmas, a scientist at VTT.
When industrial by-products are used in the process, instead of normal cement, the result is concrete with a negative carbon footprint, says the group. Possible by-products including steel industry slags, green liquor dregs and bio-ash have been combined successfully in laboratory scale demonstrations. Concrete manufactured with this method has a carbon footprint of -60 kg per cubic meter of concrete. The carbon footprint of conventional concrete is approximately 250–300 kg per cubic metre.
Scalability and economics
The groups says Carbonaide is now ready for commercialization and to be scaled for industrial production. “The technology has been proven effective and economically viable for all parties,” says VTT.
The process has been piloted with success, and the first solid building materials made using the technology have been demonstrated by the firm Rakennusbetoni- ja Elementti Oy from Hollola, and with the construction company Skanska. Rakennusbetoni- ja Elementti Oy has used the technology to manufacture carbon negative yard paving, which has been installed at Skanska’s construction site this fall. The aim of the collaboration is to pilot carbon-negative construction and to collect data on the behaviour of the materials.
The global market for concrete products and elements is growing and amounts to approximately 370 billion US dollars annually, and the group belives the Carbonaide technology has great potential.
The solution also has a market in the carbon dioxide emissions trade. One possible business model is to receive carbon dioxide from the emissions trading platforms, and use it in production.
Carbonaide’s vision is to have 100 units of the production device installed in the global market by 2030. The goal is to bind approximately 500 megatons of carbon dioxide annually by 2050, which corresponds to 10–20% of the concrete market.