Startup makes game-changing breakthrough that could change our roads and buildings for good: ‘We’ve shown that it’s possible’

A startup is producing some of the world’s first low-carbon concrete at a plant in Alabama. The company, Los Angeles-based CarbonBuilt — with its Alabama-based production partner, Blair Block — has already started production of its novel tech concrete, which it says can reduce the production of harmful planet-warming carbon by 70 to 100%.

Although concrete has been a necessary part of modern civilization for quite some time, producing it releases large amounts of harmful air pollution into our atmosphere, which heats up the planet.

Around the world, over 33 billion tons of concrete are used each year, according to an editorial in the respected journal Nature. This is three times the amount used per person 40 years ago. According to MIT Climate Portal, concrete accounted for 7% of all harmful planet-warming pollution worldwide in 2016.

If this technology were used everywhere, and pollution from the global concrete sector was reduced by the amount the startup itself claims it can achieve, it could prevent around a billion metric tons (1.1 billion tons) of harmful carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere every year.

“This is not only a milestone for CarbonBuilt and Blair Block but also for the broader concrete and building materials industries,” Rahul Shendure, CEO of CarbonBuilt, said in a statement reported by GlobeNewswire. “We’ve shown that it’s possible to massively reduce carbon emissions from concrete production without compromising on cost or performance.”

CarbonBuilt uses a unique process to produce concrete with calcium-rich industrial waste materials, according to Canary Media. These are later combined with water and aggregates, a mix which is then moved into a temperature-controlled chamber.

As reported by Canary Media, the process then funnels the harmful planet-warming gases into the chamber. This stimulates a chemical reaction that creates solid concrete and permanently traps the toxic gases in the concrete blocks instead of allowing them to get released into the environment.

CarbonBuilt was created in UCLA’s engineering school in 2014 and became independent in 2019. The startup’s technology earned an award of $7.5 million from the NRG Cosia Carbon Xprize in 2021.

According to Canary Media, C&C Masonry, a prominent contractor in Alabama, intends to utilize CarbonBuilt’s alternative blocks in their upcoming contracts, which could require up to 100,000 of them for use in large public projects in Alabama.

Overall, CarbonBuilt’s innovative, environmentally friendly processes could help change the way the U.S. and the world produce concrete.

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