We tried coffee grounds, used masks, diapers, and even a “cosmic” formula based on potatoes, powder, and salt, the whole purpose of reinventing concrete and reducing big environmental bills to make it. In California, however, there is a company that proposes a new strategy, as or more unique than the previous one: to make concrete without the need for Portland cement, a very popular binder today and in the process of production that – according to some. study – a significant amount of CO2.
Their proposal is called C-Crete, “concrete without cement.”
There is no concrete dam, in C-Crete. This is how the company of the same name (C-Crete Technologies) decided to name its creation, a construction material that it presents as a “new cement without cement.” Not much is known about its proposal because for now, the company wants to protect its formula, but it has left some clues. And also practical demonstrations.
The key to C-Crete is a cementless binding substance that uses patent-pending materials, natural minerals, and industrial products. Thanks to this combination, its creators believe that an “abundant raw material” is guaranteed.
Images from the C-Crete test in Seattle, where it used 60 tons of concrete.
Do we have more data? Yes. MIT recently published an article about C-Crete in which it ensures that its materials can be produced without the need to reach the high temperatures required to make Portland cement, reducing energy bills. this. Its main purpose, however, is another: to improve the CO2 balance of the current concrete. Like? With a material that reduces CO2 emissions and can even trap them.
“It has almost no carbon dioxide during production and absorbs it from the air over time,” the company emphasizes. One of its lines of work is how to exploit captured CO2 to strengthen its concrete. “This will make the material stronger, stronger, and stronger than normal concrete,” he promised.
From theory to practice. It’s not all theory. In July the company offered a demonstration using its material in a commercial building in Seattle, Washington state, USA. During the test, he poured approximately 60 tons of cementless concrete into the foundation and walls of an old building.
“Concrete is highly fluid, pumpable, and achieves a load strength of more than 5,000 pounds per square inch, exceeding the ASTM standard of about 4,000 psi for most residential, commercial, and concrete applications. infrastructure. It also meets other key industry standards.”
Their promise: durable and resistant. C-Crete guarantees that in addition to meeting the standards, its mixture shows “extraordinary strength”, is resistant to freezing, and is compatible with common concrete additives, an advantage with which it hopes to facilitate its commercial expansion.
MIT assures that the “formula” of C-Crete will remain a mystery until the company obtains patents, but there are “third-party tests” that confirm that it meets the requirements of strength and fluidity. of Portland cement.
What is your goal? The company has emphasized this over and over again. It aspires to be a “viable and sustainable alternative” to Portland cement. This is no small goal, given the weight of this type of binder in the industry and because of what it will mean for the environment. Some studies maintain that the global production of this substance is involved between 5 and 8% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions and C-Crete itself maintains that it is responsible for approximately 7% of total carbon emissions.
“When used instead, the new material helps to significantly reduce the environmental impact of construction. Each ton of C-Crete binder that replaces Portland cement avoids approximately one ton of CO2 emissions,” he continued. Currently, the company’s facilities are ready to produce dozens of tons of binder per day, which puts it well beyond the capacity of major cement manufacturers.
Who is behind? In a sector where attempts to “reinvent” concrete are frequent, often to achieve more sustainable and resistant variants, the question is relevant. The company’s founder and president is Rouzbeh Savary, who in the late 2000s completed his PhD at MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and started the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub. Thanks to his proposal for low CO2 emissions, he won the institution’s entrepreneurship contest, which was awarded 100,000 dollars. In his last year at MIT, he founded C-Crete.
Institutional support. Just a few weeks ago the company announced that it had achieved the support of the US Department of Energy to improve its method to exploit CO2 captured as another component of cement-free concrete. This support comes in the form of two million dollars.
“The CO2 included in the product obtained from the air when the concrete sets or from industrial sources can be used in diluted form, eliminating the expensive step of separating it from other gases,” explains C-Crete Technologies: “Once mineralized in the concrete, diluted CO2 will make the new material stronger, stronger and stronger than conventional concrete.”