Words by Tess Becker
The most important greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. It traps and radiates heat and without CO2 the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect would be too weak to keep the average global surface temperature above freezing.
The problem is that since the industrial revolution, the US has supercharged the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and is now one of the largest contributors to global warming and therefore climate change.
To address this a plant in Arizona is working to take CO2 out of the atmosphere and trap it in cement.
Cement is incredibly carbon-intensive to produce and startups and established construction firms alike have begun devising lower-carbon ways of making concrete. Three companies are working together on an industrial lot in Flagstaff, Arizona to do just that.
Block-Lite, a family-owned masonry business, announced plans to produce concrete using an alternative cement process made by CarbonBuilt in combination with a process by Aircapture that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The trio got a $150,000 grant from the 4 Corners Carbon Coalition which is a network of local governments in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.
“Atmospheric carbon dioxide removal and carbon utilization into products is on the critical path to addressing climate change,” said Matt Atwood, CEO of Aircapture. While the common assumption of industrial carbon application is that of a short lived product, we are demonstrating a novel solution to create permanent carbon storage sinks in our built environment.”
The plan is to begin production in 2024 after retrofitting one of Block-Lite’s facilities and that plant will produce 30,000 metric tons per year of concrete, while also removing some 500 tons of atmospheric CO2 annually. This entire process will ideally cut CO2 emissions from concrete production by about 70%.
“We intend for this project to become a blueprint that can be replicated at many of the thousands of concrete manufacturing plants around the world,” said Rahul Shendure, CEO of CarbonBuilt.