Cement-free carbon-negative concrete
Pitch us on your solution
Carbicrete is a Montreal-based cleantech company that develops innovative, low-cost building solutions that contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Carbicrete’s patented technology enables the production of cement-free, carbon-negative concrete using industrial by-products and captured CO2. The company offers concrete manufacturers the process, materials and support to make lower-cost, higher-quality precast concrete in a way that reduces their carbon footprint.
What is the problem you are solving?
Concrete is the most used substance on Earth after water. A key ingredient in concrete has always been cement, the production of which accounts for over 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions. For every 1 kg of cement produced, 1 kg of CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere. Furthermore, there are many other environmental impacts associated with concrete production such as the consumption of energy, water and natural resources.
Carbicrete’s technology enables the production of concrete without using cement. The process involves using steel slag as the primary binder and carbon dioxide as the activator in cement-free concrete. Using steel slag as a raw material contributes to the reduction of industrial waste. Currently, there are limited applications for by-products of the steel-making industry. Carbicrete’s process fully consumes this material that would otherwise be destined for a landfill. Finally, curing the concrete with carbon dioxide allows the sequestration of 1 kg of CO2 per standard concrete block.
Who are you serving?
Carbicrete is working with concrete and steel manufacturers to establish a circular economy where the by-products of one industry become the raw material of the other. Concrete manufacturers will adopt the technology and sell the concrete products to their customers who can use them in a variety of projects such as building homes, infrastructure, hospitals, schools, etc. Carbicrete’s solution will address the needs of the population since the concrete meets or exceeds all the requirements of conventional concrete while being cement-free and carbon-negative. An ecological solution to a worldwide problem is beneficial to all.
What is your solution?
Carbicrete’s technology enables the production of concrete without using cement. Until now, cement has been the only substance used as the binder in concrete. Since the process avoids the emissions associated with cement production, and then captures CO2 during curing, products made using this technology are carbon-negative, with each CMU permanently sequestering up to 1 kg of CO2. Implementation of this technology by concrete makers would reduce emissions and would offer a more cost-effective, permanent and efficient way to sequester CO2.
A recognized team of researchers at McGill University spent over ten years developing the technology. Carbicrete’s breakthrough is in the development of a technology that uses steel slag as a cementing binder and carbon dioxide as a curing agent. Carbicrete’s process allows not only for the sequestration of carbon dioxide but also for the production of construction products.
Carbicrete’s technology holds several advantages over existing technologies:
- Lower material costs: Steel slag is less expensive than cement because it is essentially industrial waste.
- Durability: Products made using this technology are more durable than those made using cement. They can withstand more freeze/thaw cycles than cement-based concrete products and have a higher compressive strength.
Carbicrete’s technology contributes to sustainable development through the reduction of GHG emissions, the reduction of natural resource consumption and landfill dependency, the reduction of energy consumption and through the re-use of waste materials.
- GHG Emissions Reduction: The technology reduces the CO2, NOx, SOx, PM and VOC emissions associated with cement production. Carbon dioxide emissions are further avoided by the CO2 uptake of Carbicrete’s products.
- Landfill Dependency: The process reduces landfill dependency by using steel-making by-products which are often directed to open landfills.
- Energy Consumption: Cement production is an energy-intensive process that is not required when implementing Carbicrete’s technology.
- Natural Resource Preservation: Clay and limestone are the main ingredients of Portland cement and are continuously extracted for the cement industry. The replacement of cement in Carbicrete’s process with industrial by-products requires no mining of non-renewable materials.
Carbicrete will be licensing its technology to existing concrete manufacturers. Additionally, the firm will be supplying clients with steel slag and will offer the support and expertise required to outfit licensee’s facilities with the required curing equipment.
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Where is your solution team headquartered?Montreal, QC, Canada
Our solution's stage of development:
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Describe what makes your solution innovative.
Carbicrete is the first company to develop a way to produce concrete without cement and by using industrial by-products. Carbicrete offers a truly carbon-negative alternative to cement-based concrete through a replacement technology with lower material costs and better mechanical properties.
A point that cannot be overemphasized is that Carbicrete’s is a replacement technology and not a process for creating premium products. The products that the technology displaces are precast concrete products made with cement.
Describe the core technology that your solution utilizes.
Carbicrete’s technology has been developed at McGill University for over 10 years and is patented.
Carbicrete’s technology enables the production of concrete without using cement. The process involves using steel slag as the primary binder and carbon dioxide as the activator in cement-free concrete. Until now, cement has been the only substance used as the binder in concrete. Steel slag, a by-product of the steel-making process, has never been considered a suitable binder because of its poor hydraulic properties. Due to the high calcium content of steel slag, it is CO2-reactive. This property has been successfully leveraged in mineral carbonation to sequester carbon dioxide, which results in strength development. The technology uses steel slag as binder, aggregate as filler and carbon dioxide as a curing agent.
Using carbon dioxide in accelerated curing of cement-based concrete is a relatively recent development. The carbonation technique has been used to accelerate the curing process and reduce cement consumption, simultaneously improving concrete properties, but this is the first process that completely eliminates the need for cement.
Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?
Concrete is a $200 Billion worldwide industry. The environmental footprint of concrete is principally due to cement. Carbicrete addresses the problem by not using cement in its concrete and using industrial by-products instead. Carbicrete further addresses the environmental challenge by sequestering CO2 in its concrete products.
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?
Carbicrete’s technology is a replacement technology applicable to any concrete manufacturer around the world. In the next five years, Carbicrete would like its technology to be implemented in Canada, USA, China, India and Brazil.
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How many people work on your solution team?
Carbicrete has 7 employees.
For how many years have you been working on your solution?
A recognized team of researchers at McGill University spent over ten years developing the technology. Carbicrete has been incorporated since 2016.
Why are you and your team best-placed to deliver this solution?
Chris Stern, BEng (CEO), is a successful cleantech entrepreneur. Mehrdad Mahoutian, PhD (CTO), is an award-winning scholar, NSERC PGS and FQRNT scholarship awardee and co-inventor of Carbicrete’s technology. Mehrdad has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles concerning Carbicrete's technology. Mario Venditti, BEng, MSC, MBA (COO), is a successful executive and entrepreneur. Yuri Mytko, MBA (CMO), is a marketing and communications professional with over 15 years’ experience in brand management, media and public relations, social media and digital marketing, advertising and fundraising. Jim Perrone, Peng, MSc (PM), is an executive with experience in consulting, management, financial, and strategic analysis.
This team has been working together successfully since the incorporation of Carbicrete in 2016.
With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?
Carbicrete’s supply-side partners are multinationals that bring many years of expertise to the table and have a deep understanding of the materials they are supplying and how they can be used. Carbicrete's partners include a steel slag supplier, a CO2 supplier and concrete manufacturers.
What is your business model?
Using a licensing model, Carbicrete offers concrete manufacturers the process, materials and support to make higher-quality precast concrete in a way that reduces their material costs and their carbon footprint. We offer precast concrete manufacturers an opportunity to retrofit their existing concrete plants to implement our technology which:
- Is not a premium product
- Has a better economical model
- Has better mechanical and durability properties than cement-based concrete
- Is a carbon-negative process throughout the entire life-cycle
Carbicrete charges its clients an annual license fee and will work with its suppliers to secure the supply chain and provide its licensees with concrete-appropriate slag. The business model results in lower costs even without considering the benefit of carbon credits. Carbicrete customers benefit from lower material costs and the ability to either offer their clients cheaper concrete or to increase their margin.
Why are you applying to Solve?
Being a part of the Solve community will allow Carbicrete to develop durable partnerships in order to accelerate its growth and increase the presence of its technology worldwide. Furthermore, being a Solver will grow Carbicrete’s exposure and network. Finally, an access to funding will allow Carbicrete to invest further in research and development as well as contribute to Carbicrete’s success.
What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?
With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?
Carbicrete would like to partner with steel manufacturers, concrete manufacturers, specialized equipment manufacturers, gas suppliers, carbon capture technologies and other companies/technologies that could integrate with Carbicrete’s mission and business plan.
If you would like to apply for the GM Prize on Circular Economy, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution.
The GM Prize on Circular Economy would be utilized for Carbicrete’s research and development. Carbicrete has fully developed its technology for concrete blocks on a laboratory scale (Carbicrete is opening its pilot plant to product this product on an industrial scale). There are many other precast concrete products such as pavers, tiles, retaining walls, etc. that Carbicrete is either starting to develop or plans to develop in the future. Additional funds for equipment, employees and an R&D laboratory would strongly benefit Carbicrete.